CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRiGHT, 1900, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER^S SONS
PROFESSOR JOSLIN, who, as our readers are doubt-
less aware, is engaged in writing the life of Mrs. Au-
byn, asks us to state that he will be greatly indebted
" to any of the famous novelist's friends who will furnish him
" with information concerning the period previous to her com-
" ing to England. Mrs. Aubyn had so few intimate friends,
" and consequently so few regular correspondents, that letters
" will be of special value. Professor Joslin's address is 10 Au-
" gusta Gardens, Kensington, and he begs us to say that he
" will promptly return any documents entrusted to him."
GLENNARD dropped the Spectator and sat look-
ing into the fire. The club was filling up, but he
still had to himself the small inner room with its
darkening outlook down the rain-streaked pros-
pect of Fifth Avenue. It was all dull and dismal
enough, yet a moment earlier his boredom had been
perversely tinged by a sense of resentment at the
thought that, as things were going, he might in
time have to surrender even the despised privilege
of boring himself within those particular four walls.
It was not that he cared much for the club, but
that the remote contingency of having to give it
up stood to him, just then, perhaps by very reason
of its insignificance and remoteness, for the symbol
of his increasing abnegations; of that perpetual
paring-off that was gradually reducing existence to
the naked business of keeping himself alive. It was the
futility of his multiplied shifts and privations that
made them seem unworthy of a high attitude the
sense that, however rapidly he eliminated the super-
fluous, his cleared horizon was likely to offer no nearer
view of the one prospect toward which he strained.
To give up things in order to marry the woman one
loves is easier than to give them up without being
brought appreciably nearer to such a conclusion.
Through the open door he saw young Hollings-
worth rise with a yawn from the ineffectual solace of
a brandy-and-soda and transport his purposeless per-
son to the window. Glennard measured his course
with a contemptuous eye. It was so like Hollings-
worth to get up and look out of the window just as
it was growing too dark to see anything ! There was
a man rich enough to do what he pleased had he
been capable of being pleased yet barred from all
conceivable achievement by his own impervious dul-
ness; while, a few feet off, Glennard, who wanted
only enough to keep a decent coat on his back and a
roof over the head of the woman he loved Glennard,
who had sweated, toiled, denied himself for the scant
measure of opportunity that his zeal would have con-
verted into a kingdom sat wretchedly calculating
that, even when he had resigned from the club, and
knocked off his cigars, and given up his Sundays out
of town, he would still be no nearer to attainment.
The Spectator had slipped to his feet, and as he
picked it up his eye fell again on the paragraph ad-
dressed to the friends of Mrs. Aubyn. He had read
it for the first time with a scarcely perceptible quick-
ening of attention : her name had so long been pub-
lic property that his eye passed it unseeingly, as the
crowd in the street hurries without a glance by some
"Information concerning the period previous to
her coming to England. . . ." The words were an
evocation. He saw her again as she had looked at
their first meeting, the poor woman of genius with
her long pale face and short-sighted eyes, softened a
little by the grace of youth and inexperience, but so
incapable even then of any hold upon the pulses.
When she spoke, indeed, she was wonderful, more
wonderful, perhaps, than when later, to Glennard's
fancy at least, the consciousness of memorable things
uttered seemed to take from even her most intimate
speech the perfect bloom of privacy. It was in those
earliest days, if ever, that he had come near loving
her ; though even then his sentiment had lived only
in the intervals of its expression. Later, when to be
loved by her had been a state to touch any man's
imagination, the physical reluctance had, inexplica-
bly, so overborne the intellectual attraction, that the
last years had been, to both of them, an agony of
conflicting impulses. Even now, if, in turning over
old papers his hand lit on her letters, the touch filled
him with inarticulate misery. . . .
" She had so few intimate friends . . . that letters
will be of special value." So few intimate friends !
For years she had had but one ; one who in the last
years had requited her wonderful pages, her tragic
outpourings of love, humility and pardon, with the
scant phrases by which a man evades the vulgarest
of sentimental importunities. He had been a brute
in spite of himself, and sometimes, now that the re-
membrance of her face had faded, and only her voice
and words remained with him, he chafed at his own
inadequacy, his stupid inability to rise to the height
of her passion. His egoism was not of a kind to
mirror its complacency in the adventure. To have
been loved by the most brilliant woman of her day,
and to have been incapable of loving her, seemed to
him, in looking back, derisive evidence of his limita-
tions ; and his remorseful tenderness for her memory
was complicated with a sense of irritation against
her for having given him once for all the measure
of his emotional capacity. It was not often, however,
that he thus probed the past. The public, in taking
possession of Mrs. Aubyn, had eased his shoulders
of their burden. There was something fatuous in an
attitude of sentimental apology toward a memory
already classic : to reproach one's self for not having
loved Margaret Aubyn was a good deal like being
disturbed by an inability to admire the Venus of
Milo. From her cold niche of fame she looked down
ironically enough on his self-flagellations. ... It
was only when he came on something- that belonged
to her that he felt a sudden renewal of the old feel-
ing, the strange dual impulse that drew him to her
voice but drove him from her hand, so that even
now, at sight of anything she had touched, his heart
contracted painfully. It happened seldom nowadays.
Her little presents, one by one, had disappeared from
his rooms, and her letters, kept from some unac-
knowledged puerile vanity in the possession of such
treasures, seldom came beneath his hand. . . .
" Her letters will be of special value " Her let-
ters ! Why, he must have hundreds of them enough
to fill a volume. Sometimes it used to seem to him
that they came with every post he used to avoid
looking in his letter-box when he came home to his
rooms but her writing seemed to spring out at him
as he put his key in the door.
He stood up and strolled into the other room.
Hollingsworth, lounging away from the window, had
joined himself to a languidly convivial group of men,
to whom, in phrases as halting as though they strug-
gled to define an ultimate idea, he was expounding
the cursed nuisance of living in a hole with such a
damned climate that one had to get out of it by
February, with the contingent difficulty of there be-
ing no place to take one's yacht to in winter but
that other played-out hole, the Riviera. From the
outskirts of this group Glennard wandered to an-
other, where a voice as different as possible from
Hollingsworth's colorless organ dominated another
circle of languid listeners.
"Come and hear Dinslow talk about his patent:
admission free, 1 ' one of the men sang out in a tone
of mock resignation.
Dinslow turned to Glennard the confident pug-
nacity of his smile. "Give it another six months and
it '11 be talking about itself," he declared. "It 's pretty
nearly articulate now."
"Can it say papa ? " someone else inquired.
Dinslow's smile broadened. "You'll be deuced
glad to say papa to it a year from now," he retorted.
" It '11 be able to support even you in affluence. Look
here, now, just let me explain to you "
Glennard moved away impatiently. The men at
the club all but those who were "in it" were
proverbially "tired" of Dinslow's patent, and none
more so than Glennard, whose knowledge of its
merits made it loom large in the depressing cata-
logue of lost opportunities. The relations between
the two men had always been friendly, and Dinslow's
urgent offers to "take him in on the ground floor"
had of late intensified Glennard's sense of his own
inability to meet good luck half-way. Some of the
men who had paused to listen were already in even-
ing clothes, others on their way home to dress ; and
Glennard, with an accustomed twinge of humiliation,
said to himself that if he lingered among them it
was in the miserable hope that one of the number
might ask him to dine. Miss Trent had told him
that she was to go to the opera that evening with
her rich aunt; and if he should have the luck to pick
up a dinner invitation he might join her there with-
out extra outlay.
He moved about the room, lingering here and
there in a tentative affectation of interest; but
though the men greeted him pleasantly, no one
asked him to dine. Doubtless they were all engaged,
these men who could afford to pay for their dinners,
who did not have to hunt for invitations as a beggar
rummages for a crust in an ash-barrel ! But no
as Hollingsworth left the lessening circle about the
table, an admiring youth called out, "Holly, stop
and dine ! "
Hollingsworth turned on him the crude counte-
nance that looked like the wrong side of a more
finished face. "Sony I can't. I'm in for a beastly
Glennard threw himself into an arm-chair. Why
go home in the rain to dress ? It was folly to take
a cab to the opera, it was worse folly to go there
at all. His perpetual meetings with Alexa Trent
were as unfair to the girl as they were unnerving
to himself. Since he could n't marry her, it was time
to stand aside and give a better man the chance
and his thought admitted the ironical implication
that in the terms of expediency the phrase might
stand for Hollingsworth.
HE dined alone and walked home to his rooms
in the rain. As he turned into Fifth Avenue
he caught the wet gleam of carriages on their way
to the opera, and he took the first side street, in a
moment of irritation against the petty restrictions
that thwarted every impulse. It was ridiculous to
give up the opera, not because one might possibly
be bored there, but because one must pay for the
In his sitting-room, the tacit connivance of the
inanimate had centred the lamplight on a photo-
graph of Alexa Trent, placed, in the obligatory
silver frame, just where, as memory officiously re-
minded him, Margaret Aubyn's picture had long
throned in its stead. Miss Trent's features cruelly
justified the usurpation. She had the kind of beauty
that comes of a happy accord of face and spirit. It is
not given to many to have the lips and eyes of their
rarest mood, and some women go through life be-
hind a mask expressing only their anxiety about the
butcher's bill or their inability to see a joke. With
Miss Trent, face and mind had the same high serious
contour. She looked like a throned Justice by some
grave Florentine painter ; and it seemed to Glennard
that her most salient attribute, or that at least to
which her conduct gave most consistent expression,
was a kind of passionate justness the intuitive femi-
nine justness that is so much rarer than a reasoned
impartiality. Circumstances had tragically combined
to develop this instinct into a conscious habit. She
had seen more than most girls of the shabby side of
life, of the perpetual tendency of want to cramp the
noblest attitude. Poverty and misfortune had over-
hung her childhood, and she had none of the pretty
delusions about life that are supposed to be the
crowning grace of girlhood. This very competence,
which gave her a touching reasonableness, made Glen-
nard's situation more difficult than if he had aspired
to a princess. Between them they asked so little
they knew so well how to make that little do; but
they understood also, and she especially did not for
a moment let him forget, that without that little the
future they dreamed of was impossible.
The sight of her photograph quickened Glen-
narcTs exasperation. He was sick and ashamed of the
part he was playing. He had loved her now for two
years, with the tranquil tenderness that gathers
depth and volume as it nears fulfilment; he knew
that she would wait for him but the certitude was
an added pang. There are times when the constancy
of the woman one cannot marry is almost as trying
as that of the woman one does not want to.
Glennard turned up his reading-lamp and stirred
the fire. He had a long evening before him, and he
wanted to crowd out thought with action. He had
brought some papers from his office and he spread
them out on his table and squared himself to the
task. . . .
It must have been an hour later that he found
himself automatically fitting a key into a locked
drawer. He had no more notion than a somnambu-
list of the mental process that had led up to this
action. He was just dimly aware of having pushed
aside the papers and the heavy calf volumes that
a moment before had bounded his horizon, and of
laying in their place, without a trace of conscious
volition, the parcel he had taken from the drawer.
The letters were tied in packets of thirty or forty.
There were a great many packets. On some of the
envelopes the ink was fading; on others, which
bore the English postmark, it was still fresh. She
had been dead hardly three years, and she had
written, at lengthening intervals, to the last. . . .
He undid one of the early packets little notes
written during their first acquaintance at Hill-
bridge. Glennard, on leaving college, had begun
life in his uncle's law office in the old university
town. It was there that, at the house of her father,
Professor Forth, he had first met the young lady
then chiefly distinguished for having, after two
years of a conspicuously unhappy marriage, re-
turned to the protection of the paternal roof.
Mrs. Aubyn was at that time an eager and
somewhat tragic young woman, of complex mind
and undeveloped manners, whom her crude experi-
ence of matrimony had fitted out with a stock of
generalizations that exploded like bombs in the
academic air of Hillbridge. In her choice of a hus-
band she had been fortunate enough, if the paradox
be permitted, to light on one so signally gifted with
the faculty of putting himself in the wrong that
her leaving him had the dignity of a manifesto
made her, as it were, the spokeswoman of outraged
wifehood. In this light she was cherished by that
dominant portion of Hillbridge society which was
least indulgent to conjugal differences, and which
found a proportionate pleasure in being for once
able to feast openly on a dish liberally seasoned
with the outrageous. So much did this endear Mrs.
Aubyn to the university ladies, that they were dis-
posed from the first to allow her more latitude of
speech and action than the ill-used wife was gener-
ally accorded in Hillbridge, where misfortune was
still regarded as a visitation designed to put people
in their proper place and make them feel the superi-
ority of their neighbors. The young woman so privi-
leged combined with a kind of personal shyness an
intellectual audacity that was like a deflected im-
pulse of coquetry : one felt that if she had been
prettier she would have had emotions instead of
ideas. She was in fact even then what she had
always remained : a genius capable of the acutest
generalizations, but curiously undiscerning where
her personal susceptibilities were concerned. Her
psychology failed her just where it serves most
women, and one felt that her brains would never
be a guide to her heart. Of all this, however, Glen-
nard thought little in the first year of their ac-
quaintance. He was at an age when all the gifts
and graces are but so much undiscriminated food
to the ravening egoism of youth. In seeking Mrs.
Aubyn's company he was prompted by an intuitive
taste for the best as a pledge of his own superiority.
The sympathy of the cleverest woman in Hillbridge
was balm to his craving for distinction ; it was pub-
lic confirmation of his secret sense that he was cut
out for a bigger place. It must not be understood
that Glennard was vain. Vanity contents itself with
the coarsest diet ; there is no palate so fastidious as
that of self-distrust. To a youth of Glennard's as-
pirations the encouragement of a clever woman stood
for the symbol of all success. Later, when he had
begun to feel his way, to gain a foothold, he would
not need such support; but it served to carry him
lightly and easily over what is often a period of
insecurity and discouragement.
It would be unjust, however, to represent his in-
terest in Mrs. Aubyn as a matter of calculation. It
was as instinctive as love, and it missed being love
by just such a hair-breadth deflection from the line
of beauty as had determined the curve of Mrs. Au-
byrTs lips. When they met she had just published
her first novel, and Glennard, who afterward had an
ambitious man's impatience of distinguished women,
was young enough to be dazzled by the semi-pub-
licity it gave her. It was the kind of book that makes
elderly ladies lower their voices and call each other
"my dear" when they furtively discuss it ; and Glen-
nard exulted in the superior knowledge of the world
that enabled him to take as a matter of course sen-
timents over which the university shook its head.
Still more delightful was it to hear Mrs. Aubyn
waken the echoes of academic drawing-rooms with
audacities surpassing those of her printed page. Her
intellectual independence gave a touch of comrade-
ship to their intimacy, prolonging the illusion of
college friendships based on a joyous interchange of
heresies. Mrs. Aubyn and Glennard represented to
each other the augur's wink behind the Hillbridge
idol : they walked together in that light of young
omniscience from which fate so curiously excludes
Husbands, who are notoriously inopportune, may
even die inopportunely, and this was the revenge
that Mr. Aubyn, some two years after her return to
Hillbridge, took upon his injured wife. He died pre-
cisely at the moment when Glennard was beginning
to criticise her. It was not that she bored him ; she
did what was infinitely worse she made him feel
his inferiority. The sense of mental equality had
been gratifying to his raw ambition ; but as his self-
knowledge defined itself, his understanding of her
also increased ; and if man is at times indirectly flat-
tered by the moral superiority of woman, her mental
ascendency is extenuated by no such oblique tribute
to his powers. The attitude of looking up is a strain
on the muscles ; and it was becoming more and more
Glennard's opinion that brains, in a woman, should
be merely the obverse of beauty. To beauty Mrs.
Aubyn could lay no claim ; and while she had
enough prettiness to exasperate him by her inca-
pacity to make use of it, she seemed invincibly igno-
rant of any of the little artifices whereby women con-
trive to hide their defects and even to turn them
into graces. Her dress never seemed a part of her ;
all her clothes had an impersonal air, as though they
had belonged to someone else and been borrowed in
an emergency that had somehow become chronic.
She was conscious enough of her deficiencies to try to
amend them by rash imitations of the most approved
models ; but no woman who does not dress well in-
tuitively will ever do so by the light of reason, and
Mrs. Aubyn's plagiarisms, to borrow a metaphor of
her trade, somehow never seemed to be incorporated
with the text.
Genius is of small use to a woman who does not
know how to do her hair. The fame that came to
Mrs. Aubyn with her second book left GlennarcTs
imagination untouched, or had at most the negative
effect of removing her still farther from the circle of
his contracting sympathies. We are all the sport of
time ; and fate had so perversely ordered the chro-
nology of Margaret Aubyn's romance that when her
husband died Glennard felt as though he had lost a
It was not in his nature to be needlessly unkind ;
and though he was in the impregnable position of
the man who has given a woman no more definable
claim on him than that of letting her fancy that he
loves her, he would not for the world have accentu-
ated his advantage by any betrayal of indifference.
During the first year of her widowhood their friend-
ship dragged on with halting renewals of sentiment,
becoming more and more a banquet of empty dishes
from which the covers were never removed; then
Glennard went to New York to live and exchanged
the faded pleasures of intercourse for the compara-
tive novelty of correspondence. Her letters, oddly
enough, seemed at first to bring her nearer than her
presence. She had adopted, and she successfully main-
tained, a note as affectionately impersonal as his own;
she wrote ardently of her work, she questioned him
about his, she even bantered him on the inevitable
pretty girl who was certain before long to divert the
current of his confidences. To Glennard, who was
almost a stranger in New York, the sight of Mrs.
Aubyn's writing was like a voice of reassurance in
surroundings as yet insufficiently aware of him. His
vanity found a retrospective enjoyment in the senti-
ment his heart had rejected, and this factitious emo-
tion drove him once or twice to Hillbridge, whence,
after scenes of evasive tenderness, he returned dissat-
isfied with himself and her. As he made room for
himself in New York and peopled the space he had
cleared with the sympathies at the disposal of agree-
able and self-confident young men, it seemed to him
natural to infer that Mrs. Aubyn had refurnished in
the same manner the void he was not unwilling his
departure should have left. But in the dissolution of
sentimental partnerships it is seldom that both asso-
ciates are able to withdraw their funds at the same
time ; and Glennard gradually learned that he stood
for the venture on which Mrs, Aubyn had irretriev-
ably staked her all. It was not the kind of figure he
cared to cut. He had no fancy for leaving havoc in
his wake and would have preferred to sow a quick
growth of oblivion in the spaces wasted by his un-
considered inroads ; but if he supplied the seed, it
was clearly Mrs. Aubyn's business to see to the rais-
ing of the crop. Her attitude seemed indeed to throw
his own reasonableness into distincter relief; so that
they might have stood for thrift and improvidence
in an allegory of the affections.
It was not that Mrs. Aubyn permitted herself to
be a pensioner on his bounty. He knew she had no
wish to keep herself alive on the small change of sen-
timent; she simply fed on her own funded passion,
and the luxuries it allowed her made him, even then,
dimly aware that she had the secret of an inexhausti-
Their relations remained thus negatively tender
till she suddenly wrote him of her decision to go
abroad to live. Her father had died, she had no
near ties in Hillbridge, and London offered more
scope than New York to her expanding personality.
She was already famous, and her laurels were yet un-
For a moment the news roused Glennard to a
jealous sense of lost opportunities. He wanted, at
any rate, to reassert his power before she made the
final effort of escape. They had not met for over a
year, but of course he could not let her sail without
seeing her. She came to New York the day before
her departure, and they spent its last hours together.
Glennard had planned no course of action he sim-
ply meant to let himself drift. They both drifted, for
a long time, down the languid current of reminis-
cence; she seemed to sit passive, letting him push
his way back through the overgrown channels of the
past. At length she reminded him that they must
bring their explorations to an end. He rose to leave,
and stood looking at her with the same uncertainty
in his heart. He was tired of her already he was
always tired of her yet he was not sure that he
wanted her to go.
"I may never see you again, 11 he said, as though
confidently appealing to her compassion.
Her look enveloped him. "And I shall see you
always always I 11
"Why go then P 11 escaped him.
"To be nearer you, 11 she answered ; and the words
dismissed him like a closing door.
The door was never to reopen ; but through its
narrow crack Glennard, as the years went on, became
more and more conscious of an inextinguishable light
directing its small ray toward the past which con-
sumed so little of his own commemorative oil. The
reproach was taken from this thought by Mrs.
Aubyn^ gradual translation into terms of univer-
sality. In becoming a personage she so naturally
ceased to be a person that Glennard could almost
look back to his explorations of her spirit as on a
visit to some famous shrine, immortalized, but in
a sense desecrated, by popular veneration.
Her letters from London continued to come with
the same tender punctuality ; but the altered condi-
tions of her life, the vistas of new relationships dis-
closed by every phrase, made her communications as
impersonal as a piece of journalism. It was as though
the state, the world, indeed, had taken her off his
hands, assuming the maintenance of a temperament
that had long exhausted his slender store of reci-
In the retrospective light shed by the letters he
was blinded to their specific meaning. He was not
a man who concerned himself with literature, and
they had been to him, at first, simply the extension
of her brilliant talk, later the dreaded vehicle of a
tragic importunity. He knew, of course, that they
were wonderful ; that, unlike the authors who give
their essence to the public and keep only a dry rind
for their friends, Mrs. Aubyn had stored of her
rarest vintage for this hidden sacrament of tender-
ness. Sometimes, indeed, he had been oppressed, hu-
miliated almost, by the multiplicity of her allusions,
the wide scope of her interests, her persistence in
forcing her superabundance of thought and emotion
into the shallow receptacle of his sympathy ; but he
had never thought of the letters objectively, as the
production of a distinguished woman ; had never
measured the literary significance of her oppressive
prodigality. He was almost frightened now at the
wealth in his hands ; the obligation of her love had
never weighed on him like this gift of her imagina-
tion : it was as though he had accepted from her
something to which even a reciprocal tenderness
could not have justified his claim.
He sat a long time staring at the scattered pages
on his desk; and in the sudden realization of what
they meant he could almost fancy some alchemistic
process changing them to gold as he stared.
He had the sense of not being alone in the room,
of the presence of another self observing from with-
out the stirring of sub-conscious impulses that sent
flushes of humiliation to his forehead. At length he
stood up, and with the gesture of a man who wishes
to give outward expression to his purpose to es-
tablish, as it were, a moral alibi swept the letters
into a heap and carried them toward the grate. But
it would have taken too long to burn all the pack-
ets. He turned back to the table and one by one
fitted the pages into their envelopes; then he tied
up the letters and put them back into the locked
IT was one of the laws of Glennard's intercourse
with Miss Trent that he always went to see her
the day after he had resolved to give her up. There
was a special charm about the moments thus snatched
from the jaws of renunciation; and his sense of their
significance was on this occasion so keen that he
hardly noticed the added gravity of her welcome.
His feeling for her had become so vital a part of
him that her nearness had the quality of impercep-
tibly readjusting his point of view, of making the
jumbled phenomena of experience fall at once into a
rational perspective. In this redistribution of values
the sombre retrospect of the previous evening shrank
to a mere cloud on the edge of consciousness. Per-
haps the only service an unloved woman can render
the man she loves is to enhance and prolong his il-
lusions about her rival. It was the fate of Margaret
Aubyn's memory to serve as a foil to Miss Trent's
presence, and never had the poor lady thrown her
successor into more vivid relief.
Miss Trent had the charm of still waters that are
felt to be renewed by rapid currents. Her attention
spread a tranquil surface to the demonstrations of
others, and it was only in days of storm that one
felt the pressure of the tides. This inscrutable com-
posure was perhaps her chief grace in Glennard's
eyes. Reserve, in some natures, implies merely the
locking of empty rooms or the dissimulation of awk-
ward encumbrances; but Miss Trent's reticence was
to Glennard like the closed door to the sanctuary,
and his certainty of divining the hidden treasure
made him content to remain outside in the happy
expectancy of the neophyte.
"You did n't come to the opera last night,*" she
began, in the tone that seemed always rather to re-
cord a fact than to offer a reflection on it.
He answered with a discouraged gesture. "What
was the use? We couldn't have talked."
"Not as well as here," she assented ; adding, after
a meditative pause, "As you did n't come I talked to
Aunt Virginia instead."
"Ah !" he returned, the fact being hardly striking
enough to detach him from the contemplation of her
hands, which had fallen, as was their wont, into an
attitude full of plastic possibilities. One felt them to
be hands that, moving only to some purpose, were
capable of intervals of serene inaction.
"We had a long talk, 1 ' Miss Trent went on ; and she
waited again before adding, with the increased absence
of stress that marked her graver communications,
"Aunt Virginia wants me to go abroad with her."
Glennard looked up with a start. "Abroad?
"Now-^-next month. To be gone two years."
He permitted himself a movement of tender deri-
sion. "Does she really ? Well, I want you to go
abroad with me for any number of years. Which
offer do you accept ? "
"Only one of them seems to require immediate
consideration," she returned with a smile.
Glennard looked at her again. "You Ye not think-
ing of it ?"
Her gaze dropped and she unclasped her hands.
Her movements were so rare that they might have
been said to italicize her words. "Aunt Virginia
talked to me very seriously. It will be a great relief
to mother and the others to have me provided for
in that way for two years. I must think of that, you
know." She glanced down at her gown, which, under
a renovated surface, dated back to the first days of
Glennard's wooing. "I try not to cost much but I
"Good Lord !" Glennard groaned.
They sat silent till at length she gently took up
the argument. "As the eldest, you know, I 'm bound
to consider these things. Women are such a burden.
Jim does what he can for mother, but with his own
children to provide for it is n't very much. You see
we Ye all poor together."
"Your aunt isn't. She might help your mother."
"She does in her own way."
"Exactly that's the rich relation all over ! You
may be miserable in any way you like, but if you 're
to be happy you must be so in her way and in her
"I could be very happy in Aunt Virginia's old
gowns," Miss Trent interposed.
"Abroad, you mean ? "
"I mean wherever I felt that I was helping. And
my going abroad will help.""
"Of course I see that. And I see your consider-
ateness in putting its advantages negatively."
" Negatively ?"
"In dwelling simply on what the going will take
you from, not on what it will bring you to. It means
a lot to a woman, of course, to get away from a life
like this. 1 ' He summed up in a disparaging glance
the background of indigent furniture. "The question
is how you 11 like coming back to it.*"
She seemed to accept the full consequences of his
thought. "I only know I don't like leaving it."
He flung back sombrely, "You don't even put it
conditionally then ? "
Her gaze deepened. "On what?""
He stood up and walked across the room. Then he
came back and paused before her. "On the alterna-
tive of marrying me."
The slow color even her blushes seemed deliber-
ate rose to her lower lids ; her lips stirred, but the
words resolved themselves into a smile and she waited.
He took another turn, with the thwarted step of
the man whose nervous exasperation escapes through
"And to think that in fifteen years I shall have a
big practice ! "
Her eyes triumphed for him. "In less !"
"The cursed irony of it ! What do I care for the
man I shall be then ? It 's slaving one's life away for
a stranger!" He took her hands abruptly. "You'll
go to Cannes, I suppose, or Monte Carlo ? I heard
Hollingsworth say to-day that he meant to take his
yacht over to the Mediterranean "
She released herself. "If you think that "
"I don't. I almost wish I did. It would be easier,
I mean." He broke off incoherently. "I believe your
Aunt Virginia does, though. She somehow connotes
Hollingsworth and the Mediterranean." He caught
her hands again. " Alexa if we could manage a lit-
tle hole somewhere out of town ? "
"Could we?" she sighed, half yielding.
"In one of those places where they make jokes
about the mosquitoes," he pressed her. "Could you
get on with one servant ? "
"Could you get on without varnished boots?"
"Promise me you won't go, then ! "
"What are you thinking of, Stephen ? "
"I don't know," he stammered, the question giving
unexpected form to his intention. "It's all in the air
yet, of course ; but I picked up a tip the other day "
" You Ye not speculating ?" she cried, with a kind
of superstitious terror.
"Lord, no. This is a sure thing I almost wish it
was n't ; I mean if I can work it " He had a sudden
vision of the comprehensiveness of the temptation.
If only he had been less sure of Dinslow ! His assur-
ance gave the situation the base element of safety.
"I don't understand you," she faltered.
"Trust me, instead !" he adjured her with sudden
energy ; and turning on her abruptly, "If you go,
you know, you go free," he concluded.
She drew back, paling a little. "Why do you
make it harder for me ?"
"To make it easier for myself," he retorted.
THE next afternoon Glennard, leaving his office
earlier than usual, turned, on his way home,
into one of the public libraries.
He had the place to himself at that closing hour,
and the librarian was able to give an undivided at-
tention to his tentative request for letters collec-
tions of letters. The librarian suggested Walpole.
" I meant women women's letters."
The librarian proffered Hannah More and Miss
Glennard cursed his own inarticulateness. " I mean
letters to to some one person a man ; their hus-
"Ah," said the inspired librarian, "Eloise and
"Well something a little nearer, perhaps," said
Glennard, with lightness. " Did n't Merimee "
"The lady's letters, in that case, were not pub-
"Of course not," said Glennard, vexed at h
" There are George Sand's letters to Flaubert."
"Ah!" Glennard hesitated. "Was she were
they ?" He chafed at his own ignorance of the
sentimental by-paths of literature.
"If you want love-letters, perhaps some of the
French eighteenth-century correspondences might suit
you better Mile. Aisse or Madame de Sabran "
But Glennard insisted. "I want something mod-
ern English or American. I want to look some-
thing up," he lamely concluded.
The librarian could only suggest George Eliot.
" Well, give me some of the French things, then
and 1 11 have MerimeVs letters. It was the woman
who published them, was n't it ? "
He caught up his armful, transferring it, on the
doorstep, to a cab which carried him to his rooms.
He dined alone, hurriedly, at a small restaurant near
by, and returned at once to his books.
Late that night, as he undressed, he wondered
what contemptible impulse had forced from him his
last words to Alexa Trent. It was bad enough to in-
terfere with the girl's chances by hanging about her
to the obvious exclusion of other men, but it was
worse to seem to justify his weakness by dressing up
the future in delusive ambiguities. He saw himself
sinking from depth to depth of sentimental coward-
ice in his reluctance to renounce his hold on her;
and it filled him with self-disgust to think that the
highest feeling of which he supposed himself capable
was blent with such base elements.
His awakening was hardly cheered by the sight of
her writing. He tore her note open and took in the few
lines she seldom exceeded the first page with the
lucidity of apprehension that is the forerunner of evil.
" My aunt sails on Saturday and I must give her
my answer the day after to-morrow. Please don't
come till then I want to think the question over
by myself. I know I ought to go. Won't you help
me to be reasonable ? "
It was settled, then. Well, he would help her to be
reasonable; he would n't stand in her way ; he would
let her go. For two years he had been living some
other, luckier man's life ; the time had come when he
must drop back into his own. He no longer tried to
look ahead, to grope his way through the endless
labyrinth of his material difficulties ; a sense of dull
resignation closed in on him like a fog.
"Hullo, Glennard ! " a voice said, as an electric car,
late that afternoon, dropped him at an uptown corner.
He looked up and met the interrogative smile of
Barton Flamel, who stood on the curbstone watch-
ing the retreating car with the eye of a man philo-
sophic enough to remember that it will be followed
Glennard felt his usual impulse of pleasure at meet-
ing Flamel ; but it was not in this case curtailed by
the reaction of contempt that habitually succeeded
it. Probably even the few men who had known Flamel
since his youth could have given no good reason for
the vague mistrust that he inspired. Some people are
judged by their actions, others by their ideas ; and
perhaps the shortest way of defining Flamel is to
say that his well-known leniency of view was vaguely
divined to include himself. Simple minds may have
resented the discovery that his opinions were based
on his perceptions ; but there was certainly no more
definite charge against him than that implied in the
doubt as to how he would behave in an emergency,
and his company was looked upon as one of those
mildly unwholesome dissipations to which the pru-
dent may occasionally yield. It now offered itself to
Glennard as an easy escape from the obsession of
moral problems, which somehow could no more be
worn in FlamePs presence than a surplice ia the
"Where are you going? To the club?" Flamel
asked ; adding, as the younger man assented, "Why
not come to my studio instead ? You 11 see one bore
instead of twenty."
The apartment which Flamel described as his stu-
dio showed, as its one claim to the designation, a
perennially empty easel, the rest of its space being
filled with the evidences of a comprehensive dilet-
tanteism. Against this background, which seemed
the visible expression of its owner's intellectual toler-
ance, rows of fine books detached themselves with a
prominence showing them to be FlamePs chief care.
Glennard glanced with the eye of untrained curi-
osity at the lines of warm-toned morocco, while his
host busied himself with the uncorking of Apolli-
"You 've got a splendid lot of books," he said.
"They're fairly decent, 1 ' the other assented, in
the curt tone of the collector who will not talk of
his passion for fear of talking of nothing else; then,
as Glennard, his hands in his pockets, began to stroll
perfunctorily down the long line of bookcases
"Some men," Flamel irresistibly added, "think of
books merely as tools, others as tooling. I 'm between
the two ; there are days when I use them as scenery,
other days when I want them as society ; so that, as
you see, my library represents a makeshift compro-
mise between looks and brains, and the collectors
look down on me almost as much as the students."
Glennard, without answering, was mechanically
taking one book after another from the shelves. His
hands slipped curiously over the smooth covers and
the noiseless subsidence of opening pages. Suddenly
he came on a thin volume of faded manuscript.
" What 's this ? " he asked with a listless sense of
"Ah, you're at my manuscript shelf. I've been
going in for that sort of thing lately." Flamel came
up and looked over his shoulders. "That's a bit of
Stendhal one of the Italian stories and here are
some letters of Balzac to Madame Surville."
Glennard took the book with sudden eagerness.
" Who was Madame Surville ? "
"His sister." He was conscious that Flamel was
looking at him with the smile that was like an in-
terrogation point. " I did n't know you cared for this
kind of thing."
" I don't at least I Ve never had the chance. Have
you many collections of letters ? "
"Lord, no very few. I'm just beginning, and
most of the interesting ones are out of my reach.
Here's a queer little collection, though the rarest
thing I 've got half a dozen of Shelley's letters to
Harriet Westbrook. I had a devil of a time getting
them a lot of collectors were after them."
Glennard, taking the volume from his hand,
glanced with a kind of repugnance at the interleav-
ing of yellow crisscrossed sheets. " She was the one
who drowned herself, was n't she ? "
Flamel nodded. " I suppose that little episode adds
about fifty per cent, to their value," he said medi-
Glennard laid the book down. He wondered why
he had joined Flamel. He was in no humor to be
amused by the older man's talk, and a recrudescence
of personal misery rose about him like an icy tide.
" I believe I must take myself off," he said. " I M
forgotten an engagement."
He turned to go ; but almost at the same moment
he was conscious of a duality of intention wherein
his apparent wish to leave revealed itself as a last
effort of the will against the overmastering desire to
stay and unbosom himself to Flamel.
The older man, as though divining the conflict,
laid a detaining pressure on his arm.
" Won't the engagement keep ? Sit down and try
one of these cigars. I don't often have the luck of
seeing you here."
"I'm rather driven just now," said Glennard
vaguely. He found himself seated again, and Flamel
had pushed to his side a low stand holding a bottle
of Apollinaris and a decanter of cognac.
Flamel, thrown back in his capacious arm-chair,
surveyed him through a cloud of smoke with the
comfortable tolerance of the man to whom no incon-
sistencies need be explained. Connivance was implicit
in the air. It was the kind of atmosphere in which
the outrageous loses its edge. Glennard felt a gradual
relaxing of his nerves.
"I suppose one has to pay a lot for letters like
that ? " he heard himself asking, with a glance in the
direction of the volume he had laid aside.
"Oh, so-so depends on circumstances. 1 " Flamel
viewed him thoughtfully. " Are you thinking of col-
lecting ? "
Glennard laughed. "Lord, no. The other way
"Oh, I hardly know. I was thinking of a poor
Flamel filled the pause with a nod of interest.
"A poor chap I used to know who died he
died last year and who left me a lot of letters,
letters he thought a great deal of he was fond of
me and left 'em to me outright, with the idea, I sup-
pose, that they might benefit me somehow I don't
know I'm not much up on such things " He
reached his hand to the tall glass his host had filled.
"A collection of autograph letters, eh? Any big
names ? "
" Oh, only one name. They 're all letters written
to him by one person, you understand ; a woman,
in fact "
" Oh, a woman," said Flamel negligently.
Glennard was nettled by his obvious loss of inter-
est. "I rather think they'd attract a good deal of
notice if they were published."
Flamel still looked uninterested. "Love-letters, I
suppose ? "
" Oh, just the letters a woman would write to a
man she knew well. They were tremendous friends,
he and she."
" And she wrote a clever letter ? "
" Clever ? It was Margaret Aubyn."
A great silence filled the room. It seemed to Glen-
nard that the words had burst from him as blood
gushes from a wound.
"Great Scott!" said Flamel sitting up. "A col-
lection of Margaret Aubyn's letters? Did you say
you had them ? "
" They were left me by my friend."
"I see. Was he well, no matter. You're to be
congratulated, at any rate. What are you going to
do with them ? "
Glennard stood up with a sense of weariness in all
his bones. "Oh, I don't know. I haven't thought
much about it. I just happened to see that some
fellow was writing her life "
" Joslin ; yes. You did n't think of giving them to
Glennard had lounged across the room and stood
staring up at a bronze Bacchus who drooped his gar-
landed head above the pediment of an Italian cabi-
net. "What ought I to do? You're just the fellow
to advise me." He felt the blood in his cheek as he
Flamel sat with meditative eye. "What do you
want to do with them ? " he asked.
"I want to publish them," said Glennard, swing-
ing round with sudden energy " If I can "
" If you can.? They 're yours, you say ? "
"They're mine fast enough. There's no one to
prevent I mean there are no restrictions " he was
arrested by the sense that these accumulated proofs
of impunity might precisely stand as the strongest
check on his action.
" And Mrs. Aubyn had no family, I believe ? "
" Then I don't see who 's to interfere," said Flamel,
studying his cigar-tip.
Glennard had turned his unseeing stare on an
ecstatic Saint Catherine framed in tarnished gilding.
" It 's just this way," he began again, with an ef-
fort. "When letters are as personal as as these of
my friend's. . . . Well, I don't mind telling you
that the cash would make a heap of difference to
me ; such a lot that it rather obscures my judgment
the fact is, if I could lay my hand on a few thou-
sands now I could get into a big thing, and with-
out appreciable risk ; and I 'd like to know whether
you think I'd be justified under the circum-
stances. . . ." He paused with a dry throat. It
seemed to him at the moment that it would be im-
possible for him ever to sink lower in his own esti-
mation. He was in truth less ashamed of weighing
the temptation than of submitting his scruples to a
man like Flamel, and affecting to appeal to senti-
ments of delicacy on the absence of which he had
consciously reckoned. But he had reached a point
where each word seemed to compel another, as each
wave in a stream is forced forward by the pressure
behind it ; and before Flamel could speak he had
faltered out "You don't think people could say
. . . could criticise the man. . . ."
" But the man 's dead, is n't he ? "
" He 's dead yes ; but can I assume the responsi-
bility without "
Flamel hesitated; and almost immediately Glen-
nard's scruples gave way to irritation. If at this hour
Flam el were to affect an inopportune reluctance !
The older man's answer reassured him. "Why
need you assume any responsibility? Your name
won't appear, of course ; and as to your friend's, I
don't see why his should either. He was n't a celeb-
rity himself, I suppose ? "
" Then the letters can be addressed to Mr. Blank.
Does n't that make it all right ? "
Glennard's hesitation revived. "For the public,
yes. But I don't see that it alters the case for me.
The question is, ought I to publish them at all ? "
" Of course you ought to." Flamel spoke with in-
vigorating emphasis. " I doubt if you 'd be justified
in keeping them back. Anything of Margaret Au-
byn's is more or less public property by this time.
She 's too great for any one of us. I was only won-
dering how you could use them to the best advan-
tage to yourself, I mean. How many are there ? "
"Oh, a lot; perhaps a hundred I haven't
counted. There may be more. . . ."
" Gad ! What a haul ! When were they written ? "
"I don't know that is they corresponded for
years. What 's the odds ? " He moved toward his
hat with a vague impulse of flight.
"It all counts," said Flamel imperturbably. "A
long correspondence one, I mean, that covers a
great deal of time is obviously worth more than if
the same number of letters had been written within
a year. At any rate, you won't give them to Joslin ?
They 'd fill a book, would n't they ? "
" I suppose so. I don't know how much it takes to
fill a book."
" Not love-letters, you say ? "
" Why ?" flashed from Glennard.
" Oh, nothing only the big public is sentimental,
and if they were why, you could get any money
for Margaret Aubyn's love-letters."
Glennard was silent.
"Are the letters interesting in themselves? I
mean apart from the association with her name ? "
"I'm no judge." Glennard took up his hat and
thrust himself into his overcoat. "I dare say I
shaVt do anything about it. And, Flamel you
won't mention this to any one ? "
" Lord, no. Well, I congratulate you. You Ve got
a big thing." Flamel was smiling at him from the
Glennard, on the threshold, forced a response to
the smile, while he questioned with loitering indif-
ference " Financially, eh ? "
" Rather ; I should say so."
Glennard's hand lingered on the knob. "How
much should you say? You know about such
" Oh, I should have to see the letters ; but I should
say well, if you've got enough to fill a book and
they 're fairly readable, and the book is brought out
at the right time say ten thousand down from the
publisher, and possibly one or two more in royalties.
If you got the publishers bidding against each other
you might do even better ; but of course I 'm talking
in the dark."
" Of course," said Glennard, with sudden dizziness.
His hand had slipped from the knob and he stood
staring down at the exotic spirals of the Persian rug
beneath his feet.
" I 'd have to see the letters," Flamel repeated.
" Of course you 'd have to see them. . . ." Glen-
nard stammered ; and, without turning, he flung over
his shoulder an inarticulate " Good-bye. . . ."
THE little house, as Glennard strolled up to it
between the trees, seemed no more than a gay
tent pitched against the sunshine. It had the crisp-
ness of a freshly starched summer gown, and the
geraniums on the veranda bloomed as simultaneously
as the flowers in a bonnet. The garden was prosper-
ing absurdly. Seed they had sown at random amid
laughing counter-charges of incompetence had shot
up in fragrant defiance of their blunders. He smiled
to see the clematis unfolding its punctual wings
about the porch. The tiny lawn was smooth as a
shaven cheek, and a crimson rambler mounted to
the nursery window of a baby who never cried. A
breeze shook the awning above the tea-table, and his
wife, as he drew near, could be seen bending above a
kettle that was just about to boil. So vividly did the
whole scene suggest the painted bliss of a stage set-
ting, that it would have been hardly surprising to
see her step forward among the flowers and trill out
her virtuous happiness from the veranda rail.
The stale heat of the long day in town, the dusty
promiscuity of the suburban train, were now but the
requisite foil to an evening of scented breezes and
tranquil talk. They had been married more than a
year, and each home-coming still reflected the fresh-
ness of their first day together. If, indeed, their hap-
piness had a flaw, it was in resembling too closely
the bright impermanence of their surroundings. Their
love as yet was but the gay tent of holiday-makers.
His wife looked up with a smile. The country life
suited her, and her beauty had gained depth from
a stillness in which certain faces might have grown
" Are you very tired ? " she asked, pouring his tea.
"Just enough to enjoy this." He rose from the
chair in which he had thrown himself and bent over
the tray for his cream. " You Ve had a visitor ? " he
commented, noticing a half-empty cup beside her
" Only Mr. Flamel," she said indifferently.
She answered without show of surprise. " He left
just now. His yacht is down at Laurel Bay and
he borrowed a trap of the Dreshams to drive over
Glennard made no comment, and she went on,
leaning her head back against the cushions of her
bamboo seat, "He wants us to go for a sail with
him next Sunday. 1 '
Glennard meditatively stirred his tea. He was try-
ing to think of the most natural and unartificial
thing to say, and his voice seemed to come from the
outside, as though he were speaking behind a mario-
nette. " Do you want to ? "
"Just as you please," she said compliantly. No
affectation of indifference could have been as baffling
as her compliance. Glennard, of late, was beginning
to feel that the surface which, a year ago, he had
taken for a sheet of clear glass, might, after all, be a
mirror reflecting merely his own conception of what
lay behind it.
" Do you like Flamel ? " he suddenly asked ; to
which, still engaged with her tea, she returned the
feminine answer " I thought you did."
" I do, of course," he agreed, vexed at his own in-
corrigible tendency to magnify FlameFs importance
by hovering about the topic. " A sail would be rather
jolly; let's go."
She made no reply and he drew forth the rolled-
up evening papers which he had thrust into his
pocket on leaving the train. As he smoothed them
out his own countenance seemed to undergo the
same process. He ran his eye down the list of stocks,
and Flamel's importunate personality receded behind
the rows of figures pushing forward into notice like
so many bearers of good news. Glennard's invest-
ments were flowering like his garden: the dryest
shares blossomed into dividends and a golden har-
vest awaited his sickle.
He glanced at his wife with the tranquil air of
a man who digests good luck as naturally as the dry
ground absorbs a shower. "Things are looking un-
commonly well. I believe we shall be able to go to
town for two or three months next winter if we can
find something cheap."
She smiled luxuriously : it was pleasant to be able
to say, with an air of balancing relative advantages,
"Really, on the baby's account I shall be almost
sorry ; but if we do go, there 's Kate Erskine's house
. . . she '11 let us have it for almost nothing. . . ."
" Well, write her about it," he recommended, his
eye travelling on in search of the weather report. He
had turned to the wrong page ; and suddenly a line of
black characters leapt out at him as from an ambush.
"MARGARET AUBYN'S LETTERS.
" Two volumes. Out To-day. First Edition of five thousand
" sold out before leaving the press. Second Edition ready next
" week. The Book of the Year. . . ."
He looked up stupidly. His wife still sat with her
head thrown back, her pure profile detached against
the cushions. She was smiling a little over the pros-
pect his last words had opened. Behind her head
shivers of sun and shade ran across the striped awn-
ing. A row of maples and a privet hedge hid their
neighbor's gables, giving them undivided possession
of their leafy half-acre; and life, a moment before,
had been like their plot of ground, shut off, hedged
in from importunities, impenetrably his and hers.
Now it seemed to him that every maple-leaf, every
privet -bud, was a relentless human gaze, pressing
close upon their privacy. It was as though they sat in
a brightly lit room, uncurtained from a darkness full
of hostile watchers. . . . His wife still smiled; and
her unconsciousness of danger seemed in some hor-
rible way to put her beyond the reach of rescue. . . .
He had not known that it would be like this.
After the first odious weeks, spent in preparing the
letters for publication, in submitting them to Flamel,
and in negotiating with the publishers, the transac-
tion had dropped out of his consciousness into that
unvisited limbo to which we relegate the deeds we
would rather not have done but have no notion of
undoing. From the moment he had obtained Miss
Trends promise not to sail with her aunt he had
tried to imagine himself irrevocably committed.
After that, he argued, his first duty was to her
she had become his conscience. The sum obtained
from the publishers by FlameFs adroit manipulations,
and opportunely transferred to Dinslow's successful
venture, already yielded a return which, combined
with Glennard^s professional earnings, took the edge
of compulsion from their way of living, making it
appear the expression of a graceful preference for
simplicity. It was the mitigated poverty which can
subscribe to a review or two and have a few flowers
on the dinner-table. And already in a small way
Glennard was beginning to feel the magnetic quality
of prosperity. Clients who had passed his door in the
hungry days sought it out now that it bore the name
of a successful man. It was understood that a small
inheritance, cleverly invested, was the source of his
fortune ; and there was a feeling that a man who
could do so well for himself was likely to know how
to turn over other people's money.
But it was in the more intimate reward of his
wife's happiness that Glennard tasted the full flavor
of success. Coming out of conditions so narrow that
those he offered her seemed spacious, she fitted into
her new life without any of those manifest efforts at
adjustment that are as sore to a husband's pride as
the critical rearrangement of the bridal furniture. She
had given him, instead, the delicate pleasure of watch-
ing her expand like a sea-creature restored to its
element, stretching out the atrophied tentacles of girl-
ish vanity and enjoyment to the rising tide of op-
portunity. And somehow in the windowless inner
cell of his consciousness where self-criticism cowered
Glennard's course seemed justified by its merely
material success. How could such a crop of inno-
cent blessedness have sprung from tainted soil ? . . .
Now he had the injured sense of a man entrapped
into a disadvantageous bargain. He had not known
it would be like this ; and a dull anger gathered ;at
his heart. Anger against whom? Against his wife,
for not knowing what he suffered ? Against Flamel,
for being the unconscious instrument of his wrong-
doing? Or against that mute memory to which his
own act had suddenly given a voice of accusation?
Yes, that was it; and his punishment henceforth
would be the presence, the unescapable presence, of
the woman he had so persistently evaded. She would
always be there now. It was as though he had mar-
ried her instead of the other. It was what she had
always wanted to be with him and she had
gained her point at last. . . .
He sprang up, as though in an impulse of flight.
. . . The sudden movement lifted his wife's lids,
and she asked, in the incurious voice of the woman
whose life is enclosed in a magic circle of prosperity
" No none " he said, roused to a sense of im-
mediate peril. The papers lay scattered at his feet
what if she were to see them ? He stretched his arm to
gather them up, but his next thought showed him the
futility of such concealment. The same advertisement
would appear every day, for weeks to come, in every
newspaper ; how could he prevent her seeing it ? He
could not always be hiding the papers from her. . . .
Well, and what if she did see it? It would signify
nothing to her; the chances were that she would
never even read the book. ... As she ceased to be
an element of fear in his calculations the distance
between them seemed to lessen and he took her
again, as it were, into the circle of his conjugal pro-
tection. . . . Yet a moment before he had almost
hated her ! . . . He laughed aloud at his senseless
terrors. . . . He was off his balance, decidedly. . . .
" What are you laughing at ? " she asked.
He explained, elaborately, that he was laughing
at the recollection of an old woman in the train, an
old woman with a lot of bundles, who could n't find
her ticket. . . . But somehow, in the telling, the
humor of the story seemed to evaporate, and he felt
the conventionality of her smile. He glanced at his
watch. " Is n't it time to dress ? "
She rose with serene reluctance. " It 's a pity to
go in. The garden looks so lovely."
They lingered side by side, surveying their do-
main. There was not space in it, at this hour, for the
shadow of the elm tree in the angle of the hedge : it
crossed the lawn, cut the flower-border in two, and
ran up the side of the house to the nursery window.
She bent to flick a caterpillar from the honeysuckle ;
then, as they turned indoors, " If we mean to go on
the yacht next Sunday," she suggested, " ought n't
you to let Mr. Flamel know ? "
Glennard's exasperation deflected suddenly. "Of
course I shall let him know. You always seem to im-
ply that I 'm going to do something rude to Flamel."
The words reverberated through her silence; she
had a way of thus leaving one space in which to
contemplate one^s folly at arm's length. Glennard
turned on his heel and went upstairs. As he dropped
into a chair before his dressing-table, he said to him-
self that in the last hour he had sounded the depths
of his humiliation, and that the lowest dregs of it,
the very bottom-slime, was the hateful necessity of
having always, as long as the two men lived, to be
civil to Barton FJamel.
THE week in town had been sultry, and the men,
in the Sunday emancipation of white flannel
and duck, filled the deck chairs of the yacht with
their outstretched apathy, following, through a mist
of cigarette smoke, the flitting inconsequences of the
women. The party was a small one Flamel had few
intimate friends but composed of more heteroge-
neous atoms than the little pools into which society
usually runs. The reaction from the chief episode of
his earlier life had bred in Glennard an uneasy dis-
taste for any kind of personal saliency. Cleverness was
useful in business ; but in society it seemed to him as
futile as the sham cascades formed by a stream that
might have been used to drive a mill. He liked the
collective point of view that goes with the civilized
uniformity of dress clothes, and his wife's attitude
implied the same preference; yet they found them-
selves slipping more and more into FlamePs intimacy.
Alexa had once or twice said that she enjoyed meet-
ing clever people; but her enjoyment took the nega-
tive form of a smiling receptivity; and Glennard felt
a growing preference for the kind of people who have
their thinking done for them by the community.
Still, the deck of the yacht was a pleasant refuge
from the heat on shore, and his wife's profile, serenely
projected against the changing blue, lay on his ret-
ina like a cool hand on the nerves. He had never
been more impressed by the kind of absoluteness that
lifted her beauty above the transient effects of other
women, making the most harmonious face seem an
accidental collocation of features.
The ladies who directly suggested this comparison
were of a kind accustomed to take similar risks with
more gratifying results. Mrs. Armiger had in fact
long been the triumphant alternative of those who
couldn't "see" Alexa Glennard's looks; and Mrs.
Touchetfs claims to consideration were founded on
that distribution of effects which is the wonder of
those who admire a highly cultivated country. The
third lady of the trio which Glennard's fancy had
put to such unflattering uses was bound by circum-
stances to support the claims of the other two. This
was Mrs. Dresham, the wife of the editor of the
Radiator. Mrs. Dresham was a lady who had rescued
herself from social obscurity by assuming the role
of her husband's exponent and interpreter; and
DreshanVs leisure being devoted to the cultivation
of remarkable women, his wife's attitude committed
her to the public celebration of their remarkable-
ness. For the conceivable tedium of this duty, Mrs.
Dresham was repaid by the fact that there were peo-
ple who took her for a remarkable woman ; and who
in turn probably purchased similar distinction with
the small change of her reflected importance. As to
the other ladies of the party, they were simply the
wives of some of the men the kind of women who
expect to be talked to collectively and to have their
questions left unanswered.
Mrs. Armiger, the latest embodiment of DreshanVs
instinct for the remarkable, was an innocent beauty
who for years had distilled dulness among a set of
people now self-condemned by their inability to ap-
preciate her. Under Dresham's tutelage she had
developed into a " thoughtful woman," who read his
leaders in the Radiator and bought the works he
recommended. When a new book appeared, people
wanted to know what Mrs. Armiger thought of it ;
and a young gentleman who had made a trip in
Touraine had recently inscribed to her the wide-
margined result of his explorations.
Glennard, leaning back with his head against the
rail and a slit of fugitive blue between his half-closed
lids, vaguely wished she would n't spoil the afternoon
by making people talk ; though he reduced his an-
noyance to the minimum by not listening to what
was said, there remained a latent irritation against
the general futility of words.
His wife's gift of silence seemed to him the most
vivid commentary on the clumsiness of speech as a
means of intercourse, and his eyes had turned to her
in renewed appreciation of this finer faculty when
Mrs. Arranger's voice abruptly brought home to him
the underrated potentialities of language.
" You 've read them, of course, Mrs. Glennard ? "
he heard her ask ; and, in reply to Alexa's vague
interrogation "Why, the Aubyn Letters it's the
only book people are talking of this week."
Mrs. Dresham immediately saw her advantage.
" You have n't read them ? How very extraordinary !
As Mrs. Armiger says, the book 's in the air : one
breathes it in like the influenza."
Glennard sat motionless, watching his wife.
" Perhaps it has n't reached the suburbs yet," she
said with her unruffled smile.
" Oh, do let me come to you, then ! " Mrs.
Touchett cried ; " anything for a change of air !
I'm positively sick of the book and I can't put
it down. Can't you sail us beyond its reach, Mr.
Flamel shook his head. "Not even with this
breeze. Literature travels faster than steam now-
adays. And the worst of it is that we can't any of us
give up reading : it 's as insidious as a vice and as
tiresome as a virtue."
" I believe it is a vice, almost, to read such a book
as the Letters" said Mrs. Touchett. "It's the wo-
man's soul, absolutely torn up by the roots her
whole self laid bare; and to a man who evidently
did n't care ; who could n't have cared. I don't mean
to read another line : it 's too much like listening at
" But if she wanted it published ? "
" Wanted it ? How do we know she did ? "
"Why, I heard she'd left the letters to the man
whoever he is with directions that they should
be published after his death "
" I don't believe it," Mrs. Touchett declared.
" He 's dead then, is he ? " one of the men asked.
" Why, you don't suppose if he were alive he could
ever hold up his head again, with these letters being
read by everybody ? " Mrs. Touchett protested. " It
must have been horrible enough to know they 'd been
written to him ; but to publish them ! No man could
have done it and no woman could have told him to "
" Oh, come, come," Dresham judicially interposed ;
"after all, they're not love-letters."
" No that 's the worst of it ; they 're unloved let-
ters," Mrs. Touchett retorted.
" Then, obviously, she need n't have written them ;
whereas the man, poor devil, could hardly help re-
"Perhaps he counted on the public to save him
the trouble of reading them," said young Hartly,
who was in the cynical stage.
Mrs. Armiger turned her reproachful loveliness to
Dresham. "From the way you defend him I believe
you know who he is."
Every one looked at Dresham, and his wife smiled
with the superior ah* of the woman who is in her
husband's professional secrets. Dresham shrugged his
" What have I said to defend him ? "
"You called him a poor devil you pitied him."
" A man who could let Margaret Aubyn write to
him in that way ? Of course I pity him."
"Then you must know who he is," cried Mrs.
Armiger with a triumphant air of penetration.
Hartly and Flamel laughed and Dresham shook
his head. " No one knows ; not even the publishers ;
so they tell me at least."
"So they tell you to tell us," Hartly astutely
amended; and Mrs. Armiger added, with the ap-
pearance of carrying the argument a point farther,
"But even if he^s dead and she^s dead, somebody
must have given the letters to the publishers/'
"A little bird, probably," said Dresham, smiling
indulgently on her deduction.
"A little bird of prey then a vulture, I should
say " another man interpolated.
"Oh, I'm not with you there," said Dresham
easily. " Those letters belonged to the public."
" How can any letters belong to the public that
were n't written to the public ? " Mrs. Touchett in-
"Well, these were, in a sense. A personality as
big as Margaret Aubyn's belongs to the world. Such
a mind is part of the general fund of thought. It 's
the penalty of greatness one becomes a monument
historique. Posterity pays the cost of keeping one
up, but on condition that one is always open to the
"I don't see that that exonerates the man who
gives up the keys of the sanctuary, as it were."
" Who was he ? " another voice inquired.
" Who was he ? Oh, nobody, I fancy the letter-
box, the slit in the wall through which the letters
passed to posterity. . . ."
" But she never meant them for posterity ! "
"A woman should n't write such letters if she
does n't mean them to be published. . . ."
" She should n't write them to such a man ! " Mrs.
Touchett scornfully corrected.
"I never keep letters," said Mrs. Armiger, under
the obvious impression that she was contributing a
valuable point to the discussion.
There was a general laugh, and Flamel, who had
not spoken, said lazily, " You women are too incur-
ably subjective. I venture to say that most men
would see in those letters merely their immense lit-
erary value, their significance as documents. The
personal side does n't count where there 's so much
"Oh, we all know you haven't any principles,"
Mrs. Armiger declared ; and Alexa Glennard, lifting
an indolent smile, said : " I shall never [write you a
love-letter, Mr. Flamel."
Glennard moved away impatiently. Such talk was
as tedious as the buzzing of gnats. He wondered why
his wife had wanted to drag him on such a senseless
expedition. . . . He hated Flamel's crowd and what
business had Flamel himself to interfere in that way,
standing up for the publication of the letters as
though Glennard needed his defence ? . . .
Glennard turned his head and saw that Flamel
had drawn a seat to Alexa's elbow and was speaking
to her in a low tone. The other groups had scattered,
straying in twos along the deck. It came over Glen-
nard that he should never again be able to see
Flamel speaking to his wife without the sense of
sick mistrust that now loosened his joints. . . .
Alexa, the next morning, over their early break-
fast, surprised her husband by an unexpected re-
" Will you bring me those letters from town ? "
" What letters ? " he said, putting down his cup.
He felt himself as vulnerable as a man who is lunged
at in the dark.
"Mrs. Aubyn's. The book they were all talking
Glennard, carefully measuring his second cup of
tea, said with deliberation, "I didn't know you
cared about that sort of thing."
She was, in fact, not a great reader, and a new
book seldom reached her till it was, so to speak, on
the home stretch ; but she replied with a gentle
tenacity, " I think it would interest me because I
read her life last year."
" Her life ? Where did you get that ? "
" Some one lent it to me when it came out Mr.
Flamel, I think."
His first impulse was to exclaim, " Why the devil
do you borrow books of Flamel ? I can buy you all
you want " but he felt himself irresistibly forced
into an attitude of smiling compliance. "Flamel
always has the newest books going, has n't he ? You
must be careful, by the way, about returning what
he lends you. He's rather crotchety about his li-
"Oh, I'm always very careful," she said, with a
touch of competence that struck him ; and she
added, as he caught up his hat : " Don't forget the
Why had she asked for the book ? Was her sudden
wish to see it the result of some hint of Flamel's ?
The thought turned Glennard sick, but he preserved
sufficient lucidity to tell himself, a moment later,
that his last hope of self-control would be lost if he
yielded to the temptation of seeing a hidden purpose
in everything she said and did. How much Flamel
guessed, he had no means of divining ; nor could he
predicate, from what he knew of the man, to what
use his inferences might be put. The very qualities
that had made Flamel a useful adviser made him the
most dangerous of accomplices. Glennard felt him-
self agrope among alien forces that his own act had
set in mbtion. . . .
Alexa was a woman of few requirements ; but her
wishes, even in trifles, had a definiteness that distin-
guished them from the fluid impulses of her kind.
He knew that, having once asked for the book, she
would not forget it ; and he put aside, as an ineffec-
tual expedient, his momentary idea of applying for
it at the circulating library and telling her that all
the copies were out. If the book was to be bought,
it had better be bought at once. He left his office
earlier than usual and turned in at the first book-
shop on his way to the train. The show-window was
stacked with conspicuously lettered volumes. Mar-
garet Aubyn flashed back at him in endless iteration.
He plunged into the shop and came on a counter
where the name repeated itself on row after row of
bindings. It seemed to have driven the rest of litera-
ture to the back shelves. He caught up a copy, toss-
ing the money to an astonished clerk, who pursued
him to the door with the unheeded offer to wrap up
In the street he was seized with a sudden appre-
hension. What if he were to meet Flamel? The
thought was intolerable. He called a cab and drove
straight to the station, where, amid the palm-leaf
fans of a perspiring crowd, he waited a long half-
hour for his train to start.
He had thrust a volume in either pocket, and in
the train he dared not draw them out ; but the de-
tested words leaped at him from the folds of the
evening paper. The air seemed full of Margaret
Aubyn's name ; the motion of the train set it danc-
ing up and down on the page of a magazine that a
man in front of him was reading. . . .
At the door he was told that Mrs. Glennard was
still out, and he went upstairs to his room and
dragged the books from his pocket. They lay on
the table before him like live things that he feared
to touch. ... At length he opened the first vol-
ume. A familiar letter sprang out at him, each word
quickened by its glaring garb of type. The little
broken phrases fled across the page like wounded
animals in the open. ... It was a horrible sight
... a battue of helpless things driven savagely out
of shelter. He had not known it would be like
this. . . .
He understood now that, at the moment of selling
the letters, he had viewed the transaction solely as
it affected himself: as an unfortunate blemish on an
otherwise presentable record. He had scarcely con-
sidered the act in relation to Margaret Aubyn ; for
death, if it hallows, also makes innocuous. Glennard^s
God was a god of the living, of the immediate, the
actual, the tangible; all his days he had lived in
the presence of that god, heedless of the divinities
who, below the surface of our deeds and passions,
silently forge the fatal weapons of the dead.
A KNOCK roused him, and looking up he saw
his wife. He met her glance in silence, and she
faltered out, " Are you ill ? "
The words restored his self-possession. "111? Of
course not. They told me you were out and I came
The books lay between them on the table; he
wondered when she would see them. She lingered
tentatively on the threshold, with the air of leaving
his explanation on his hands. She was not the kind
of woman who could be counted on to fortify an ex-
cuse by appearing to dispute it.
" Where have you been ? " Glennard asked, moving
forward so that he obstructed her vision of the books.
" I walked over to the Dreshams 1 for tea."
"I can't think what you see in those people," he
said with a shrug; adding, uncontrollably "I sup-
pose Flamel was there ? "
" No ; he left on the yacht this morning."
An answer so obstructing to the natural escape of
his irritation left Glennard with no momentary re-
source but that of strolling impatiently to the win-
dow. As her eyes followed him they lit on the books.
" Ah, you Ve brought them ! I 'm so glad," she
He answered over his shoulder, "For a woman
who never reads you make the most astounding ex-
ceptions ! "
Her smile was an exasperating concession to the
probability that it had been hot in town or that
something had bothered him.
" Do you mean it 's not nice to want to read the
book?" she asked. "It was not nice to publish it,
certainly ; but after all, I 'm not responsible for that,
am I ? " She paused, and, as he made no answer, went
on, still smiling, "I do read sometimes, you know;
and I'm very fond of Margaret Aubyn's books. I
was reading Pomegranate Seed when we first met.
Don't you remember? It was then you told me all
Glennard had turned back into the room and
stood staring at his wife. "All about her?" he re-
peated, and with the words remembrance came to
him. He had found Miss Trent one afternoon with
the novel in her hand, and moved by the lover's
fatuous impulse to associate himself in some way
with whatever fills the mind of the beloved, had
broken through his habitual silence about the past.
Rewarded by the consciousness of figuring impres-
sively in Miss Trent's imagination, he had gone on
from one anecdote to another, reviving dormant de-
tails of his old Hillbridge life, and pasturing his
vanity on the eagerness with which she listened to
his reminiscences of a being already clothed in the
impersonality of greatness.
The incident had left no trace in his mind; but
it sprang up now like an old enemy, the more dan-
gerous for having been forgotten. The instinct of
self-preservation sometimes the most perilous that
man can exercise made him awkwardly declare :
" Oh, I used to see her at people's houses, that was
all;" and her silence as usual leaving room for a
multiplication of blunders, he added, with increased
indifference, " I simply can't see what you can find
to interest you in such a book."
She seemed to consider this intently. "You've
read it, then?"
"I glanced at it I never read such things.*"
" Is it true that she did n't wish the letters to be
Glennard felt the sudden dizziness of the moun-
taineer on a narrow ledge, and with it the sense that
he was lost if he looked more than a step ahead.
" I 'm sure I don't know," he said ; then, summon-
ing a smile, he passed his hand through her arm. " /
did n't have tea at the Dreshams', you know ; won't
you give me some now ? " he suggested.
That evening Glennard, under pretext of work to
be done, shut himself into the small study opening
off the drawing-room. As he gathered up his papers
he said to his wife: "You're not going to sit in-
doors on such a night as this ? I '11 join you presently
But she had drawn her arm-chair to the lamp. "I
want to look at my book," she said, taking up the
first volume of the Letters.
Glennard, with a shrug, withdrew into the study.
"Pm going to shut the door; I want to be quiet,"
he explained from the threshold; and she nodded
without lifting her eyes from the book.
He sank into a chair, staring aimlessly at the out-
spread papers. How was he to work, while on the
other side of the door she sat with that volume in
her hand ? The door did not shut her out he saw
her distinctly, felt her close to him in a contact as
painful as the pressure on a bruise.
The sensation was part of the general strangeness
that made him feel like a man waking from a long
sleep to find himself in an unknown country among
people of alien tongue. We live in our own souls as
in an unmapped region, a few acres of which we
have cleared for our habitation ; while of the nature
of those nearest us we know but the boundaries that
march with ours. Of the points in his wife's char-
acter not in direct contact with his own, Glennard
now discerned his ignorance; and the baffling sense
of her remoteness was intensified by the discovery
that, in one way, she was closer to him than ever
before. As one may live for years in happy uncon-
sciousness of the possession of a sensitive nerve, he
had lived beside his wife unaware that her individu-
ality had become a part of the texture of his life,
ineradicable as some growth on a vital organ ; and
he now felt himself at once incapable of forecasting
her judgment and powerless to evade its effects.
To escape, the next morning, the confidences of
the breakfast-table, he went to town earlier than
usual. His wife, who read slowly, was given to talk-
ing over what she read, and at present his first ob-
ject in life was to postpone the inevitable discussion
of the letters. This instinct of protection, in the af-
ternoon, on his way up town, guided him to the club
in search of a man who might be persuaded to come
out to the country to dine. The only man in the
club was Flamel.
Glennard, as he heard himself almost involuntarily
pressing Flamel to come and dine, felt the full irony
of the situation. To use Flamel as a shield against his
wife's scrutiny was only a shade less humiliating than
to reckon on his wife as a defence against Flamel.
He felt a contradictory movement of annoyance at
the latter's ready acceptance, and the two men drove
in silence to the station. As they passed the book-
stall in the waiting-room Flamel lingered a moment,
and the eyes of both fell on Margaret Aubyn's name,
conspicuously displayed above a counter stacked with
the familiar volumes.
" We shall be late, you know," Glennard remon-
strated, pulling out his watch.
" Go ahead," said Flamel imperturbably. " I want
to get something "
Glennard turned on his heel and walked down the
platform. Flamel rejoined him with an innocent-
looking magazine in his hand; but Glennard dared
not even glance at the cover, lest it should show the
syllables he feared.
The train was full of people they knew, and they
were kept apart till it dropped them at the little
suburban station. As they strolled up the shaded
hill, Glennard talked volubly, pointing out the
improvements in the neighborhood, deploring the
threatened approach of an electric railway, and
screening himself by a series of reflex adjustments
from the risk of any allusion to the Letters. Flamel
suffered his discourse with the bland inattention that
we accord to the affairs of some one else's suburb,
and they reached the shelter of Alexa's tea-table
without a perceptible turn toward the dreaded
The dinner passed off safely. Flamel, always at his
best in Alexa's presence, gave her the kind of atten-
tion which is like a becoming light thrown on the
speaker's words : his answers seemed to bring out a
latent significance in her phrases, as the sculptor
draws his statue from the block. Glennard, under
his wife's composure, detected a sensibility to this
manoeuvre, and the discovery was like the lightning-
flash across a nocturnal landscape. Thus far these
momentary illuminations had served only to reveal
the strangeness of the intervening country: each
fresh observation seemed to increase the sum-total
of his ignorance. Her simplicity of outline was more
puzzling than a complex surface. One may conceiv-
ably work one's way through a labyrinth ; but Alexa's
candor was like a snow-covered plain, where, the road
once lost, there are no landmarks to travel by.
Dinner over, they returned to the veranda, where
a moon, rising behind the old elm, was combining
with that complaisant tree a romantic enlargement
of their borders. Glennard had forgotten the cigars.
He went to his study to fetch them, and in passing
through the drawing-room he saw the second volume
of the Letters lying open on his wife's table. He
picked up the book and looked at the date of the
letter she had been reading. It was one of the last
... he knew the few lines by heart. He dropped the
book and leaned against the wall. Why had he in-
cluded that one among the others ? Or was it possi-
ble that now they would all seem like that . . . ?
Alexa's voice came suddenly out of the dusk.
"May Touchett was right it is like listening at a
keyhole. I wish I had n't read it ! "
Flamel returned, in the leisurely tone of the man
whose phrases are punctuated by a cigarette, "It
seems so to us, perhaps; but to another generation
the book will be a classic."
"Then it ought not to have been published till
it had time to become a classic. It's horrible, it's
degrading almost, to read the secrets of a woman
one might have known."" She added, in a lower tone,
" Stephen did know her "
" Did he ? " came from Flamel.
" He knew her very well, at Hillbridge, years ago.
The book has made him feel dreadfully ... he
would n't read it ... he did n't want me to read it.
I did n't understand at first, but now I can see how
horribly disloyal it must seem to him. It 's so much
worse to surprise a friend's secrets than a stranger's."
"Oh, Glennard's such a sensitive chap," Flamel
said easily; and Alexa almost rebukingly rejoined,
"If you'd known her I'm sure you'd feel as he
does. . . ."
Glennard stood motionless, overcome by the sin-
gular infelicity with which he had contrived to put
Flamel in possession of the two points most damag-
ing to his case : the fact that he had been a friend
of Margaret Aubyn's and that he had concealed
from Alexa his share in the publication of the let-
ters. To a man of less than Flamel's astuteness it
must now be clear to whom the letters were ad-
dressed ; and the possibility once suggested, nothing
could be easier than to confirm it by discreet re-
search. An impulse of self-accusal drove Glennard to
the window. Why not anticipate betrayal by telling
his wife the truth in FlamePs presence ? If the man
had a drop of decent feeling in him, such a course
would be the surest means of securing his silence;
and above all, it would rid Glennard of the necessity
of defending himself against the perpetual criticism
of his wife's belief in him. . . .
The impulse was strong enough to carry him to
the window ; but there a reaction of defiance set in.
What had he done, after all, to need defence and
explanation ? Both Dresham and Flamel had, in his
hearing, declared the publication of the letters to be
not only justifiable but obligatory ; and if the disin-
terestedness of FlamePs verdict might be questioned,
DreshanVs at least represented the impartial view of
the man of letters. As to Alexa's words, they were
simply the conventional utterance of the " nice " wo-
man on a question already decided for her by other
"nice" women. She had said the proper thing as
mechanically as she would have put on the appro-
priate gown or written the correct form of dinner
invitation. Glennard had small faith in the abstract
judgments of the other sex : he knew that half the
women who were horrified by the publication of
Mrs. Aubyn's letters would have betrayed her secrets
without a scruple.
The sudden lowering of his emotional pitch
brought a proportionate relief. He told himself
that now the worst was over and things would fall
into perspective again. His wife and Flamel had
turned to other topics, and coming out on the
veranda, he handed the cigars to Flamel, saying
cheerfully and yet he could have sworn they were
the last words he meant to utter! "Look here,
old man, before you go down to Newport you must
come out and spend a few days with us mustn't
GLENN ARD, perhaps unconsciously, had counted
on the continuance of this easier mood. He had
always taken pride in a certain robustness of fibre
that enabled him to harden himself against the in-
evitable, to convert his failures into the building
materials of success. Though it did not even now
occur to him that what he called the inevitable had
hitherto been the alternative he happened to prefer,
he was yet obscurely aware that his present diffi-
culty was one not to be conjured by any affectation
of indifference. Some griefs build the soul a spacious
house, but in this misery of Glennard's he could
not stand upright. It pressed against him at every
turn. He told himself that this was because there
was no escape from the visible evidences of his act.
The Letters confronted him everywhere. People who
had never opened a book discussed them with criti-
cal reservations ; to have read them had become a
social obligation in circles to which literature never
penetrates except in a personal guise.
Glennard did himself injustice. It was from the
unexpected discovery of his own pettiness that he
chiefly suffered. Our self-esteem is apt to be based
on the hypothetical great act we have never had
occasion to perform ; and even the most self-scruti-
nizing modesty credits itself negatively with a high
standard of conduct. Glennard had never thought
himself a hero; but he had been certain that he
was incapable of baseness. We all like our wrong-
doings to have a becoming cut, to be made to or-
der, as it were; and Glennard found himself sud-
denly thrust into a garb of dishonor surely meant
for a meaner figure.
The immediate result of his first weeks of wretch-
edness was the resolve to go to town for the winter.
He knew that such a course was just beyond the
limit of prudence ; but it was easy to allay the fears
of Alexa, who, scrupulously vigilant in the manage-
ment of the household, preserved the American
wife's usual aloofness from her husband's business
cares. Glennard felt that he could not trust himself
to a winter's solitude with her. He had an unspeak-
able dread of her learning the truth about the let-
ters, yet could not be sure of steeling himself against
the suicidal impulse of avowal. His very soul was
parched for sympathy; he thirsted for a voice of
pity and comprehension. But would his wife pity?
Would she understand? Again he found himself
brought up abruptly against his incredible igno-
rance of her nature. The fact that he knew well
enough how she would behave in the ordinary emer-
gencies of life, that he could count, in such contin-
gencies, on the kind of high courage and directness
he had always divined in her, made him the more
hopeless of her entering into the tortuous psychol-
ogy of an act that he himself could no longer ex-
plain or understand. It would have been easier had
she been more complex, more feminine if he could
have counted on her imaginative sympathy or her
moral obtuseness but he was sure of neither. He
was sure of nothing but that, for a time, he must
avoid her. Glennard could not rid himself of the
delusion that by and by his action would cease to
make its consequences felt. He would not have cared
to own to himself that he counted on the dulling of
his sensibilities : he preferred to indulge the vague hy-
pothesis that extraneous circumstances would some-
how efface the blot upon his conscience. In his worst
moments of self-abasement he tried to find solace in
the thought that Flamel had sanctioned his course.
Flamel, at the outset, must have guessed to whom
the letters were addressed; yet neither then nor
afterward had he hesitated to advise their publi-
cation. This thought drew Glennard to him in fit-
ful impulses of friendliness, from each of which
there was a sharper reaction of distrust and aver-
sion. When Flamel was not at the house, he missed
the support of his tacit connivance; when he was
there, his presence seemed the assertion of an in-
Early in the winter the Glennards took possession
of the little house that was to cost them almost
nothing. The change brought Glennard the relief
of seeing less of his wife, and of being protected,
in her presence, by the multiplied preoccupations
of town life. Alexa, who could never appear hurried,
showed the smiling abstraction of a pretty woman
to whom the social side of married life has not lost
its novelty. Glennard, with the recklessness of a man
fresh from his first financial imprudence, encouraged
her in such little extravagances as her good sense
at first resisted. Since they had come to town, he
argued, they might as well enjoy themselves. He
took a sympathetic view of the necessity of new
gowns, he gave her a set of furs at Christmas, and be-
fore the New Year they had agreed on the necessity
of adding a parlor-maid to their small establishment.
Providence the very next day hastened to justify
this measure by placing on Glennard's breakfast-
plate an envelope bearing the name of the publishers
to whom he had sold Mrs. Aubyn's letters. It hap-
pened to be the only letter the early post had
brought, and he glanced across the table at his wife,
who had come down before him and had probably
laid the envelope on his plate. She was not the wo-
man to ask awkward questions, but he felt the con-
jecture of her glance, and he was debating whether
to affect surprise at the receipt of the letter, or to
pass it off as a business communication that had
strayed to his house, when a check fell from the
envelope. It was the royalty on the first edition of
the letters. His first feeling was one of simple satis-
faction. The money had come with such infernal
opportuneness that he could not help welcoming it.
Before long, too, there would be more ; he knew the
book was still selling far beyond the publishers' pre-
visions. He put the check in his pocket and left the
room without looking at his wife.
On the way to his office the habitual reaction set
in. The money he had received was the first tangible
reminder that he was living on the sale of his self-
esteem. The thought of material benefit had been
overshadowed by his sense of the intrinsic baseness
of making the letters known : now he saw what an
element of sordidness it added to the situation and
how the fact that he needed the money, and must
use it, pledged him more irrevocably than ever to
the consequences of his act. It seemed to him, in
that first hour of misery, that he had betrayed his
When, that afternoon, he reached home earlier
than usual, Alexa's drawing-room was full of a gay-
ety that overflowed to the stairs. Flamel, for a won-
der, was not there ; but Dresham and young Hartly,
grouped about the tea-table, were receiving with
resonant mirth a narrative delivered in the fluttered
staccato that made Mrs. Armiger's conversation like
the ejaculations of a startled aviary.
She paused as Glennard entered, and he had
time to notice that his wife, who was busied about
the tea-tray, had not joined in the laughter of the
" Oh, go on, go on,"" young Hartly rapturously
groaned; and Mrs. Armiger met Glennard's inquiry
with the deprecating cry that really she didn't see
what there was to laugh at. " I 'm sure I feel more
like crying. I don't know what I should have done
if Alexa had n^t been at home to give me a cup of
tea. My nerves are in shreds yes, another, dear,
please " and as Glennard looked his perplexity,
she went on, after pondering on the selection of a
second lump of sugar, " Why, I Ve just come from
the reading, you know the reading at the Waldorf."
" I have n't been in town long enough to know
anything," said Glennard, taking the cup his wife
handed him. " Who has been reading what ? "
"That lovely girl from the South Georgie
Georgie What Vher-name Mrs. Dresham's prote-
gee unless she 's yours, Mr. Dresham ! Why, the big
ball-room was packed, and all the women were crying
like idiots it was the most harrowing thing I ever
" What did you hear ? " Glennard asked ; and his
wife interposed: "Won't you have another bit of
cake, Julia ? Or, Stephen, ring for some hot toast,
please." Her tone betrayed a polite weariness of the
topic under discussion. Glennard turned to the bell,
but Mrs. Armiger pursued him with her lovely
"Why, the Aubyn Letters didn't you know
about it? She read them so beautifully that it was
quite horrible I should have fainted if there 'd been
a man near enough to carry me out."
Hardy's glee redoubled, and Dresham said jovially,
"How like you women to raise a shriek over the book
and then do all you can to encourage the blatant
publicity of the readings ! "
Mrs. Armiger met him more than half-way on a
torrent of self-accusal. " It was horrid ; it was dis-
graceful. I told your wife we ought all to be ashamed
of ourselves for going, and I think Alexa was quite
right to refuse to take any tickets even if it was
for a charity."
" Oh," her hostess murmured indifferently, " with
me charity begins at home. I can't afford emotional
"A charity? A charity?" Hartly exulted. "I
hadn't seized the full beauty of it. Reading poor
Margaret Aubyn's love-letters at the Waldorf before
five hundred people for a charity ! What charity, dear
Mrs. Armiger ? "
"Why, the Home for Friendless Women"
"It was well chosen," Dresham commented; and
Hartly buried his mirth in the sofa cushions.
When they were alone Glennard, still holding his
untouched cup of tea, turned to his wife, who sat
silently behind the kettle. " Who asked you to take
a ticket for that reading ? "
" I don't know, really Kate Dresham, I fancy. It
was she who got it up."
"It's just the sort of damnable vulgarity she's
capable of! It's loathsome it's monstrous "
His wife, without looking up, answered gravely,
66 1 thought so too. It was for that reason I did n't
go. But you must remember that very few people
feel about Mrs. Aubyn as you do "
Glennard managed to set down his cup with a
steady hand, but the room swung round with him
and he dropped into the nearest chair. " As I do ? "
" I mean that very few people knew her when she
lived in New York. To most of the women who went
to the reading she was a mere name, too remote to
have any personality. With me, of course, it was
Glennard gave her a startled look. "Different?
" Since you were her friend "
" Her friend ! " He stood up. " You speak as if
she had had only one the most famous woman of
her day ! " He moved vaguely about the room, bend-
ing down to look at some books on the table. "I
hope," he added, "you didn't give that as a reason?""
" A reason ? "
"For not going. A woman who gives reasons for
getting out of social obligations is sure to make her-
self unpopular or ridiculous."
The words were uncalculated ; but in an instant
he saw that they had strangely bridged the distance
between his wife and himself. He felt her close on
him, like a panting foe ; and her answer was a flash
that showed the hand on the trigger.
"I seem," she said from the threshold, "to have
done both in giving my reason to you."
The fact that they were dining out that evening
made it easy for him to avoid Alexa till she came
downstairs in her opera-cloak. Mrs. Touchett, who
was going to the same dinner, had offered to call for
her; and Glennard, refusing a precarious seat be-
tween the ladies' draperies, followed on foot. The
evening was interminable. The reading at the Wal-
dorf, at which all the women had been present, had
revived the discussion of the Aubyn Letters, and
Glennard, hearing his wife questioned as to her
absence, felt himself miserably wishing that she had
gone, rather than that her staying away should have
been remarked. He was rapidly losing all sense of
proportion where the Letters were concerned. He
could no longer hear them mentioned without sus-
pecting a purpose in the allusion; he even yielded
himself for a moment to the extravagance of im-
agining that Mrs. Dresham, whom he disliked, had
organized the reading in the hope of making him be-
tray himself for he was already sure that Dresham
had divined his share in the transaction.
The attempt to keep a smooth surface on this
inner tumult was as endless and unavailing as efforts
made in a nightmare. He lost all sense of what he
was saying to his neighbors ; and once when he looked
up his wife's glance struck him cold.
She sat nearly opposite him, at FlameFs side, and
it appeared to Glennard that they had built about
themselves one of those airy barriers of talk behind
which two people can say what they please. While
the reading was discussed they were silent. Their si-
lence seemed to Glennard almost cynical it stripped
the last disguise from their complicity. A throb of
anger rose in him, but suddenly it fell, and he felt,
with a curious sense of relief, that at bottom he no
longer cared whether Flamel had told his wife or
not. The assumption that Flamel knew about the
letters had become a fact to Glennard; and it now
seemed to him better that Alexa should know too.
He was frightened at first by the discovery of his
own indifference. The last barriers of his will seemed
to be breaking down before a flood of moral lassi-
tude. How could he continue to play his part, how
keep his front to the enemy, with this poison of in-
difference stealing through his veins? He tried to
brace himself with the remembrance of his wife's
scorn. He had not forgotten the note on which their
conversation had closed. If he had ever wondered
how she would receive the truth he wondered no
longer she would despise him. But this lent a new
insidiousness to his temptation, since her contempt
would be a refuge from his own. He said to himself
that, since he no longer cared for the consequences,
he could at least acquit himself of speaking in self-
defence. What he wanted now was not immunity
but castigation : his wife's indignation might still
reconcile him to himself. Therein lay his one hope
of regeneration ; her scorn was the moral antiseptic
that he needed, her comprehension the one balm
that could heal him. . . .
When they left the dinner he was so afraid of
speaking that he let her drive home alone, and went
to the club with Flamel.
HE rose next morning with the resolve to know
what Alexa thought of him. It was not an-
choring in a haven but lying to in a storm he
felt the need of a temporary lull in the turmoil of
He came home late, for they were dining alone
and he knew that they would have the evening to-
gether. When he followed her to the drawing-room
after dinner he thought himself on the point of
speaking; but as she handed him his coffee he said
involuntarily: "I shall have to carry this off to the
study; I Ve got a lot of work to-night."
Alone in the study he cursed his cowardice. What
was it that had withheld him? A certain bright
unapproachableness seemed to keep him at arm's
length. She was not the kind of woman whose com-
passion could be circumvented ; there was no chance
of slipping past the outposts he would never take
her by surprise. Well why not face her, then?
What he shrank from could be no worse than what
he was enduring. He had pushed back his chair and
turned to go upstairs when a new expedient pre-
sented itself. What if, instead of telling her, he were
to let her find out for herself and watch the effect
of the discovery before speaking? In this way he
made over to chance the burden of the revelation.
The idea had been suggested by the sight of the
formula enclosing the publisher's check. He had
deposited the money, but the notice accompanying
it dropped from his note-case as he cleared his table
for work. It was the formula usual in such cases, and
revealed clearly enough that he was the recipient of
a royalty on Margaret Aubyn's letters. It would be
impossible for Alexa to read it without understand-
ing at once that the letters had been written to him
and that he had sold them. . . .
He sat downstairs till he heard her ring for the
parlor-maid to put out the lights ; then he went up
to the drawing-room with a bundle of papers in his
hand. Alexa was just rising from her seat, and the
lamplight fell on the deep roll of hair that overhung
her brow like the eaves of a temple. Her face had
often the high secluded look of a shrine ; and it was
this touch of awe in her beauty that now made him
feel himself on the brink of sacrilege.
Lest the feeling should control him, he spoke at
once. "I've brought you a piece of work a lot of
old bills and things that I want you to sort for me.
Some are not worth keeping but you '11 be able to
judge of that. There may be a letter or two among
them nothing of much account; but I don't like
to throw away the whole lot without having them
looked over, and I have n't time to do it myself."
He held out the papers, and she took them with
a smile that seemed to recognize in the service he
asked the tacit intention of making amends for the
incident of the previous day.
" Are you sure I shall know which to keep ? "
"Oh, quite sure,"" he answered easily; "and be-
sides, none are of much importance."
The next morning he invented an excuse for leav-
ing the house without seeing her, and when he re-
turned, just before dinner, he found a visitor's hat
and stick in the hall. The visitor was Flamel, who
was just taking leave.
He had risen, but Alexa remained seated; and
their attitude gave the impression of a colloquy that
had prolonged itself beyond the limits of speech.
Both turned a surprised eye on Glennard, and he had
the sense of walking into a room grown suddenly
empty, as though their thoughts were conspirators
dispersed by his approach. He felt the clutch of his
old fear. What if his wife had already sorted the
papers and had told Flamel of her discovery ? Well,
it was no news to Flamel that Glennard was in re-
ceipt of a royalty on the Aubyn Letters. . .
A sudden resolve to know the worst made him lift
his eyes to his wife as the door closed on Flamel.
But Alexa had risen also, and bending over her
writing-table, with her back to Glennard, was be-
ginning to speak precipitately.
"I'm dining out to-night you don't mind my
deserting you ? Julia Armiger sent me word just now
that she had an extra ticket for the last Ambrose
concert. She told me to say how sorry she was
that she hadn't two, but I knew you wouldn't
be sorry!" She ended with a laugh that had the
effect of being a strayed echo of Mrs. Armiger's ;
and before Glennard could speak she had added,
with her hand on the door, "Mr. Flamel stayed so
late that I Ve hardly time to dress. The concert be-
gins ridiculously early, and Julia dines at half -past
seven. 1 '
Glennard stood alone in the empty room that
seemed somehow full of an ironical consciousness of
what was happening. " She hates me,' 1 he murmured.
" She hates me ..."
The next day was Sunday, and Glennard pur-
posely lingered late in his room. When he came
downstairs his wife was already seated at the break-
fast-table. She lifted her usual smile to his entrance
and they took shelter in the nearest topic, like way-
farers overtaken by a storm. While he listened to
her account of the concert he began to think that,
after all, she had not yet sorted the papers, and that
her agitation of the previous day must be ascribed
to another cause, in which perhaps he had but an
indirect concern. He wondered it had never before
occurred to him that Flamel was the kind of man
who might very well please a woman at his own ex-
pense, without need of fortuitous assistance. If this
possibility cleared the outlook it did not brighten it.
Glennard merely felt himself left alone with his base-
Alexa left the breakfast-table before him, and
when he went up to the drawing-room he found her
dressed to go out.
" Are n't you a little early for church ? " he asked.
She replied that, on the way there, she meant to
stop a moment at her mother's ; and while she drew
on her gloves he fumbled among the knick-knacks on
the mantelpiece for a match to light his cigarette.
"Well, good-bye," she said, turning to go; and
from the threshold she added: "By the way, I've
sorted the papers you gave me. Those that I thought
you would like to keep are on your study table." She
went downstairs and he heard the door close behind
She had sorted the papers she knew, then she
must know and she had made no sign !
Glennard, he hardly knew how, found himself once
more in the study. On the table lay the packet he
had given her. It was much smaller she had evi-
dently gone over the papers with care, destroying
the greater number. He loosened the elastic band
and spread the remaining envelopes on his desk. The
publishers notice was among them.
HIS wife knew and she made no sign. Glennard
found himself in the case of the seafarer who,
closing his eyes at nightfall on a scene he thinks to put
leagues behind him before day, wakes to a port-hole
framing the same patch of shore. From the kind of ex-
altation to which his resolve had lifted him he dropped
to an unreasoning apathy. His impulse of confession
had acted as a drug to self-reproach. He had tried to
shift a portion of his burden to his wife's shoulders ;
and now that she had tacitly refused to carry it, he
felt the load too heavy to be taken up.
A fortunate interval of hard work brought respite
from this phase of sterile misery. He went West to
argue an important case, won it, and came back to
fresh preoccupations. His own affairs were thriving
enough to engross him in the pauses of his profes-
sional work, and for over two months he had little
time to look himself in the face. Not unnaturally
for he was as yet unskilled in the subtleties of intro-
spection he mistook his temporary insensibility for
a gradual revival of moral health.
He told himself that he was recovering his sense
of proportion, getting to see things in their true
light ; and if he now thought of his rash appeal to
his wife's sympathy it was as an act of folly from
the consequences of which he had been saved by the
providence that watches over madmen. He had little
leisure to observe Alexa ; but he concluded that the
common sense momentarily denied him had coun-
selled her silent acceptance of the inevitable. If
such a quality was a poor substitute for the passion-
ate justness that had once seemed to distinguish
her, he accepted the alternative as a part of that
general lowering of the key that seems needful to
the maintenance of the matrimonial duet. What
woman ever retained her abstract sense of justice
where another woman was concerned ? Possibly the
thought that he had profited by Mrs. Aubyn's ten-
derness was not wholly disagreeable to his wife.
When the pressure of work began to lessen, and
he found himself, in the lengthening afternoons, able
to reach home somewhat earlier, he noticed that the
little drawing-room was always full and that he and
his wife seldom had an evening alone together.
When he was tired, as often happened, she went
out alone ; the idea of giving up an engagement to
remain with him seemed not to occur to her. She
had shown, as a girl, little fondness for society, nor
had she seemed to regret it during the year they had
spent in the country. He reflected, however, that he
was sharing the common lot of husbands, who pro-
verbially mistake the early ardors of housekeeping
for a sign of settled domesticity. Alexa, at any rate,
was refuting his theory as inconsiderately as a seed-
ling defeats the gardener's expectations. An undefi-
nable change had come over her. In one sense it was
a happy one, since she had grown, if not handsomer,
at least more vivid and expressive ; her beauty had
become more communicable : it was as though she
had learned the conscious exercise of intuitive attri-
butes and now used her effects with the discrimina-
tion of an artist skilled in values. To a dispassionate
critic (as Glennard now rated himself) the art may
at times have been a little too obvious. Her attempts
at lightness lacked spontaneity, and she sometimes
rasped him by laughing like Julia Armiger ; but he
had enough imagination to perceive that, in respect
of his wife's social arts, a husband necessarily sees
the wrong side of the tapestry.
In this ironical estimate of their relation Glen-
nard found himself strangely relieved of all concern
as to his wife's feelings for Flamel. From an Olym-
pian pinnacle of indifference he calmly surveyed their
inoffensive antics. It was surprising how his cheap-
ening of his wife put him at ease with himself. Far
as he and she were from each other they yet had, in
a sense, the tacit nearness of complicity. Yes, they
were accomplices; he could no more be jealous of
her than she could despise him. The jealousy that
would once have seemed a blur on her whiteness
now appeared like a tribute to ideals in which he
no longer believed.
Glennard was little given to exploring the outskirts
of literature. He always skipped the " literary notices'"
in the papers, and he had small leisure for the inter-
mittent pleasures of the periodical. He had therefore
no notion of the prolonged reverberations which the
Aubyn Letters had awakened. When the book ceased
to be talked about he supposed it had ceased to be
read ; and this apparent subsidence of the agitation
about it brought the reassuring sense that he had
exaggerated its vitality. The conviction, if it did
not ease his conscience, at least offered him the
relative relief of obscurity ; he felt like an offender
taken down from the pillory and thrust into the
soothing darkness of a cell.
But one evening, when Alexa had left him to go
to a dance, he chanced to turn over the magazines
on her table, and the copy of the Horoscope to
which he settled down with his cigar confronted
him, on its first page, with a portrait of Margaret
Aubyn. It was a reproduction of the photograph
that had stood so long on his desk. The desiccating
air of memory had turned her into the mere abstrac-
tion of a woman, and this unexpected evocation
seemed to bring her nearer than she had ever been
in life. Was it because he understood her better ?
He looked long into her eyes; little personal traits
reached out to him like caresses the tired droop
of her lids, her quick way of leaning forward as she
spoke, the movements of her long expressive hands.
All that was feminine in her, the quality he had
always missed, stole toward him from her unre-
proachful gaze ; and now that it was too late, life
had developed in him the subtler perceptions which
could detect it in even this poor semblance of her-
self. For a moment he found consolation in the
thought that, at any cost, they had thus been
brought together; then a sense of shame rushed
over him. Face to face with her, he felt himself laid
bare to the inmost fold of consciousness. The shame
was deep, but it was a renovating anguish : he was
like a man whom intolerable pain has roused from
the creeping lethargy of death. . .
He rose next morning to as fresh a sense of life
as though his hour of communion with Margaret
Aubyn had been a more exquisite renewal of their
earlier meetings. His waking thought was that he
must see her again; and as consciousness affirmed
itself he felt an intense fear of losing the sense of
her nearness. But she was still close to him : her
presence remained the one reality in a world of
shadows. All through his working hours he was re-
living with incredible minuteness every incident of
their obliterated past : as a man who has mastered
the spirit of a foreign tongue turns with renewed
wonder to the pages his youth has plodded over.
In this lucidity of retrospection the most trivial de-
tail had its meaning, and the joy of recovery was
embittered to Glennard by the perception of all that
he had missed. He had been pitiably, grotesquely
stupid; and there was irony in the thought that,
but for the crisis through which he was passing, he
might have lived on in complacent ignorance of his
loss. It was as though she had bought him with her
blood. . .
That evening he and Alexa dined alone. After
dinner he followed her to the drawing-room. He no
longer felt the need of avoiding her ; he was hardly
conscious of her presence. After a few words they
lapsed into silence, and he sat smoking with his eyes
on the fire. It was not that he was unwilling to talk
to her ; he felt a curious desire to be as kind as possi-
ble ; but he was always forgetting that she was there.
Her full bright presence, through which the currents
of life flowed so warmly, had grown as tenuous as a
shadow, and he saw so far beyond her.
Presently she rose and began to move about the
room. She seemed to be looking for something, and
he roused himself to ask what she wanted.
" Only the last number of the Horoscope. I thought
I'd left it on this table."" He said nothing, and she
went on : " You have n't seen it ? "
"No,' 1 he returned coldly. The magazine was
locked in his desk.
His wife had moved to the mantelpiece. She stood
facing him, and as he looked up he met her tentative
gaze. " I was reading an article in it a review of
Mrs. Aubyn's Letters? she added slowly, with her
deep deliberate blush.
Glennard stooped to toss his cigar into the fire.
He felt a savage wish that she would not speak the
other woman's name ; nothing else seemed to matter.
" You seem to do a lot of reading," he said.
She still confronted him. " I was keeping this for
you I thought it might interest you," she said
with an air of gentle insistence.
He stood up and turned away. He was sure she
knew that he had taken the review, and he felt that
he was beginning to hate her again.
"I haven't time for such things," he said indif-
ferently. As he moved to the door he heard her take
a hurried step forward; then she paused, and sank
without speaking into the chair from which he had
ViS Glennard, in the raw February sunlight,
JL jL mounted the road to the cemetery, he felt
the beatitude that comes with an abrupt cessation
of physical pain. He had reached the point where
self-analysis ceases ; the impulse that moved him was
purely intuitive. He did not even seek a reason for
it, beyond the obvious one that his desire to stand
by Margaret Aubyn's grave was prompted by no at-
tempt at a sentimental reparation, but rather by the
need to affirm in some way the reality of the tie be-
The ironical promiscuity of death had brought
Mrs. Aubyn back to share the hospitality of her
husband's last lodging; but though Glennard knew
she had been buried near New York he had never
visited her grave. He was oppressed, as he now
threaded the long avenues, by a chilling vision of
her return. There was no family to follow her hearse ;
she had died alone, as she had lived ; and the " dis-
tinguished mourners " who had formed the escort of
the famous writer knew nothing of the woman they
were committing to the grave. Glennard could not
even remember at what season she had been buried ;
but his mood indulged the fancy that it must have
been on some such day of harsh sunlight, the incisive
February brightness that gives perspicuity without
warmth. The white avenues stretched before him in-
terminably, lined with stereotyped emblems of afflic-
tion, as though all the platitudes ever uttered had
been turned to marble and set up over the unresist-
ing dead. Here and there, no doubt, a frigid urn or
an insipid angel imprisoned some fine-fibred grief, as
the most hackneyed words may become the vehicle
of rare meanings ; but for the most part the endless
alignment of monuments seemed to embody those
easy generalizations about death that do not disturb
the repose of the living. Glennard's eye, as he fol-
lowed the way pointed out to him, had instinctively
sought some low mound with a quiet headstone. He
had forgotten that the dead seldom plan their own
houses, and with a pang he discovered the name he
sought on the cyclopean base of a shaft rearing its
aggressive height at the angle of two avenues.
" How she would have hated it ! " he murmured.
A bench stood near and he seated himself. The
monument rose before him like some pretentious un-
inhabited dwelling: he could not believe that Mar-
garet Aubyn lay there. It was a Sunday morning, and
black figures moved among the paths, placing flow-
ers on the frost-bound hillocks. Glennard noticed that
the neighboring graves had been thus newly dressed,
and he fancied a blind stir of expectancy through
the sod, as though the bare mounds spread a parched
surface to that commemorative rain. He rose pres-
ently and walked back to the entrance of the ceme-
tery. Several greenhouses stood near the gates, and
turning in at the first he asked for some flowers.
"Anything in the emblematic line?" asked the
anaemic man behind the dripping counter.
Glennard shook his head.
"Just cut flowers? This way then." The florist
unlocked a glass door and led him down a moist
green aisle. The hot air was choked with the scent
of white azaleas, white lilies, white lilacs; all the
flowers were white: they were like a prolongation,
[ 128 ]
a mystic efflorescence, of the long rows of marble
tombstones, and their perfume seemed to cover an
odor of decay. The rich atmosphere made Glennard
dizzy. As he leaned in the doorway, waiting for the
flowers, he had a penetrating sense of Margaret
Aubyn's nearness not the imponderable presence
of his inner vision, but a life that beat warm in his
arms. . .
The sharp air caught him as he stepped out into
it again. He walked back and scattered the flowers
over the grave. The edges of the white petals shriv-
elled like burnt paper in the cold ; and as he watched
them the illusion of her nearness faded, shrank back
THE motive of his visit to the cemetery re-
mained undefined save as a final effort of
escape from his wife's inexpressive acceptance of his
shame. It seemed to him that as long as he could
keep himself alive to that shame he would not
wholly have succumbed to its consequences. His
chief fear was that he should become the creature
of his act. His wife's indifference degraded him : it
seemed to put him on a level with his dishonor.
Margaret Aubyn would have abhorred the deed in
proportion to her pity for the man. The sense of
her potential pity drew him back to her. The one
woman knew but did not understand; the other, it
sometimes seemed, understood without knowing.
In its last disguise of retrospective remorse, his
self-pity affected a desire for solitude and medita-
tion. He lost himself in morbid musings, in futile
visions of what life with Margaret Aubyn might
have been. There were moments when,, in the strange
dislocation of his view, the wrong he had done her
seemed a tie between them.
To indulge these emotions he fell into the habit,
on Sunday afternoons, of solitary walks prolonged
till after dusk. The days were lengthening, there was
a touch of spring in the air, and his wanderings now
usually led him to the Park and its outlying regions.
One Sunday, tired of aimless locomotion, he took
a cab at the Park gates and let it carry him out to
the Riverside Drive. It was a gray afternoon streaked
with east wind. Glennard's cab advanced slowly, and
as he leaned back, gazing with absent intentness at
the deserted paths that wound under bare boughs
between grass banks of premature vividness, his at-
tention was arrested by two figures walking ahead
of him. This couple, who had the path to them-
selves, moved at an uneven pace, as though adapting
their gait to a conversation marked by meditative
intervals. Now and then they paused, and in one of
these pauses the lady, turning toward her compan-
ion, showed Glennard the outline of his wife's pro-
file. The man was Flamel.
The blood rushed to Glennard's forehead. He sat
up with a jerk and pushed back the lid in the roof
of the hansom ; but when the cabman bent down he
dropped into his seat without speaking. Then, be-
coming conscious of the prolonged interrogation of
the lifted lid, he called out " Turn drive back
anywhere I 'm in a hurry "
As the cab swung round he caught a last glimpse
of the two figures. They had not moved ; Alexa, with
bent head, stood listening.
" My God, my God " he groaned.
It was hideous it was abominable he could not
understand it. The woman was nothing to him less
than nothing yet the blood hummed in his ears
and hung a cloud before him. He knew it was only
the stirring of the primal instinct, that it had no
more to do with his reasoning self than any reflex
impulse of the body; but that merely lowered an-
guish to disgust. Yes, it was disgust he felt almost
a physical nausea. The poisonous fumes of life were
in his lungs. He was sick, unutterably sick. . .
He drove home and went to his room. They were
giving a little dinner that night, and when he came
down the guests were arriving. He looked at his
wife: her beauty was extraordinary, but it seemed
to him the beauty of a smooth sea along an unlit
coast. She frightened him.
He sat late in his study. He heard the parlor-
maid lock the front door; then his wife went up-
stairs and the lights were put out. His brain was
like some great empty hall with an echo in it : one
thought reverberated endlessly. . . At length he
drew his chair to the table and began to write. He
addressed an envelope and then slowly re-read what
he had written.
" My dear Flamel,
" Many apologies for not sending you sooner the
" enclosed check^ which represents the customary per-
" centage on the sale of the ' Letters?
" Trusting you will excuse the oversight,
" Yours truly
" Stephen Glennard?
He let himself out of the darkened house and
dropped the letter in the post-box at the corner.
The next afternoon he was detained late at his
office, and as he was preparing to leave he heard
some one asking for him in the outer room. He
seated himself again and Flamel was shown in.
The two men, as Glennard pushed aside an ob-
structive chair, had a moment to measure each
other; then Flamel advanced, and drawing out his
note-case, laid a slip of paper on the desk.
" My dear fellow, what on earth does this mean ? "
Glennard recognized his check.
"That I was remiss, simply. It ought to have
gone to you before."
Flamel's tone had been that of unaffected surprise,
but at this his accent changed and he asked quickly :
" On what ground ? "
Glennard had moved away from the desk and
stood leaning against the calf-backed volumes of
the bookcase. "On the ground that you sold Mrs.
Aubyn's letters for me, and that I find the inter-
mediary in such cases is entitled to a percentage on
Flamel paused before answering. "You find, you
say. It 's a recent discovery ? "
"Obviously, from my not sending the check
sooner. You see I'm new to the business."
" And since when have you discovered that there
was any question of business, as far as I was con-
Glennard flushed and his voice rose slightly. " Are
you reproaching me for not having remembered it
sooner ? "
Flamel, who had spoken in the rapid repressed
tone of a man on the verge of anger, stared a mo-
ment at this and then, in his natural voice, rejoined
good-humoredly, " Upon my soul, I don't understand
you ! "
The change of key seemed to disconcert Glennard.
" It 's simple enough," he muttered.
" Simple enough your offering me money in re-
turn for a friendly service ? I don't know what your
other friends expect ! "
" Some of my friends would n't have undertaken
the job. Those who would have done so would prob-
ably have expected to be paid."
He lifted his eyes to Flamel and the two men
looked at each other. Flamel had turned white and
his lips stirred, but he held his temperate note. " If
you mean to imply that the job was not a nice one
you lay yourself open to the retort that you pro-
posed it. But for my part I 've never seen, I never
shall see, any reason for not publishing the letters."
"That's just it!"
" The certainty of your not seeing was what made
me go to you. When a man's got stolen goods to
pawn he does n't take them to the police-station."
"Stolen?" Flamel echoed. "The letters were
Glennard burst into a laugh. " How much longer
do you expect me to keep up that pretence about
the letters ? You knew well enough they were writ-
ten to me."
Flamel looked at him in silence. " Were they ? "
he said at length. " I did n't know it."
"And didn't suspect it, I suppose," Glennard
The other was again silent ; then he said, " I may
remind you that, supposing I had felt any curiosity
about the matter, I had no way of finding out that
the letters were written to you. You never showed
me the originals."
" What does that prove ? There were fifty ways of
finding out. It 's the kind of thing one can easily do."
Flamel glanced at him with contempt. " Our ideas
probably differ as to what a man can easily do. It
would not have been easy for me."
Glennard's anger vented itself in the words upper-
most in his thought. " It may, then, interest you to
hear that my wife does know about the letters has
known for some months. . ."
" Ah," said the other, slowly.
Glennard saw that, in his blind clutch at a wea-
pon, he had seized the one most apt to wound.
Flamel's muscles were under control, but his face
showed the undefinable change produced by the
slow infiltration of poison. Every implication that
the words contained had reached its mark; but
Glennard felt that their obvious intent was lost in
the anguish of what they suggested. He was sure
now that Flamel would never have betrayed him ;
but the inference only made a wider outlet for his
anger. He paused breathlessly for Flamel to speak.
" If she knows, it 's not through me." It was what
Glennard had waited for.
" Through you, by God ? Who said it was through
you ? Do you suppose I leave it to you, or to any-
body else, for that matter, to keep my wife informed
of my actions ? I did n't suppose even such egregious
conceit as yours could delude a man to that degree ! "
Struggling for a foothold in the landslide of his
dignity, he added in a steadier tone, "My wife
learned the facts from me."
Flamel received this in silence. The other's out-
break seemed to have restored his self-control, and
when he spoke it was with a deliberation implying
that his course was chosen. "In that case I under-
stand still less "
" The meaning of this." He pointed to the check.
"When you began to speak I supposed you had
meant it as a bribe ; now I can only infer it was in-
tended as a random insult. In either case, here 's my
He tore the slip of paper in two and tossed the
fragments across the desk to Glennard. Then he
turned and walked out of the office.
Glennard dropped his head on his hands. If he had
hoped to restore his self-respect by the simple expe-
dient of assailing FlameFs, the result had not justi-
fied his expectation. The blow he had struck had
blunted the edge of his anger, and the unforeseen ex-
tent of the hurt inflicted did not alter the fact that
his weapon had broken in his hands. He now saw
that his rage against Flamel was only the last pro-
jection of a passionate self-disgust. This conscious-
ness did not dull his dislike of the man ; it simply
made reprisals ineffectual. FlamePs unwillingness to
quarrel with him was the last stage of his abasement.
In the light of this final humiliation his assump-
tion of his wife's indifference struck him as hardly so
fatuous as the sentimental resuscitation of his past.
He had been living in a factitious world wherein
his emotions were the sycophants of his vanity, and
it was with instinctive relief that he felt its ruins
crash about his head.
It was nearly dark when he left his office, and
he walked slowly homeward in the complete mental
abeyance that follows on such a crisis. He was not
aware that he was thinking of his wife ; yet when he
reached his own door he found that, in the involun-
tary readjustment of his vision, she had once more
become the central point of consciousness.
IT had never before occurred to him that she might,
after all, have missed the purport of the document
he had put in her way. What if, in her hurried
inspection of the papers, she had passed it over as
related to the private business of some client ? What,
for instance, was to prevent her concluding that
Glennard was the counsel of the unknown person
who had sold the Aubyn Letters? The subject was
one not likely to fix her attention she was not a
Glennard at this point laid down his fork and
glanced at her between the candle-shades. The alter-
native explanation of her indifference was not slow
in presenting itself. Her head had the same listening
droop as when he had caught sight of her the day
before in FlameFs company ; the attitude revived the
vividness of his impression. It was simple enough,
after all. She had ceased to care for him because she
cared for some one else.
As he followed her upstairs he felt a sudden stir-
ring of his dormant anger. His sentiments had lost
their artificial complexity. He had already acquitted
her of any connivance in his baseness, and he felt
only that he loved her and that she had escaped
him. This was now, strangely enough, his dominant
thought: the sense that he and she had passed
through the fusion of love and had emerged from
it as incommunicably apart as though the transmu-
tation had never taken place. Every other passion,
he mused, left some mark upon the nature ; but love
passed like the flight of a ship across the waters.
She dropped into her usual seat near the lamp,
and he leaned against the chimney, moving about
with an inattentive hand the knick-knacks on the
Suddenly he caught sight of her reflection in the
mirror. She was looking at him. He turned and their
He moved across the room.
" There 's something that I want to say to you,"
She held his gaze, but her color deepened. He
noticed again, with a jealous pang, how her beauty
had gained in warmth and meaning. It was as though
a transparent cup had been filled with wine. He
looked at her ironically.
"IVe never prevented your seeing your friends
here," he broke out. " Why do you meet Flamel in
out-of-the-way places ? Nothing makes a woman so
She rose abruptly and they faced each other a few
" What do you mean ? " she asked.
66 1 saw you with him last Sunday on the River-
side Drive," he went on, the utterance of the charge
reviving his anger.
"Ah," she murmured. She sank into her chair
again and began to play with a paper-knife that lay
on the table at her elbow.
Her silence exasperated him.
"Well?" he burst out. "Is that all you have to
66 Do you wish me to explain ? " she asked proudly.
" Do you imply I have n't the right to ? "
" I imply nothing. I will tell you whatever you
wish to know. I went for a walk with Mr. Flamel
because he asked me to."
" I did n't suppose you went uninvited. But there
are certain things a sensible woman does n't do. She
doesn't slink about in out-of-the-way streets with
men. Why could n't you have seen him here ? "
She hesitated. "Because he wanted to see me alone."
"Did he indeed? And may I ask if you gratify
all his wishes with equal alacrity ? "
" I don't know that he has any others where I am
concerned." She paused again and then continued, in
a voice that somehow had an under-note of warn-
ing, "He wished to bid me good-bye. He's going
Glennard turned on her a startled glance. " Going
away ? "
" He 's going to Europe to-morrow. He goes for a
long time. I supposed you knew."
The last phrase revived his irritation. "You for-
get that I depend on you for my information about
Flamel. He 's your friend and not mine. In fact, I 've
sometimes wondered at your going out of your way
to be so civil to him when you must see plainly
enough that I don't like him."
Her answer to this was not immediate. She seemed
to be choosing her words with care, not so much for
her own sake as for his, and his exasperation was in-
creased by the suspicion that she was trying to spare
" He was your friend before he was mine. I never
knew him till I was married. It was you who brought
him to the house and who seemed to wish me to like
Glennard gave a short laugh. The defence was
feebler than he had expected : she was certainly not
a clever woman.
" Your deference to my wishes is really beautiful ;
but it 's not the first time in history that a man has
made a mistake in introducing his friends to his
wife. You must, at any rate, have seen since then
that my enthusiasm had cooled ; but so, perhaps, has
your eagerness to oblige me."
She met this with a silence that seemed to rob the
taunt of half its efficacy.
" Is that what you imply ? " he pressed her.
"No," she answered with sudden directness. "I
noticed some time ago that you seemed to dislike
him, but since then "
"Well since then?"
"I've imagined that you had reasons for still
wishing me to be civil to him, as you call it."
"Ah," said Glennard with an effort at lightness;
but his irony dropped, for something in her voice
made him feel that he and she stood at last in that
naked desert of apprehension where meaning skulks
vainly behind speech.
"And why did you imagine this?" The blood
mounted to his forehead. " Because he told you that
I was under obligations to him ? "
She turned pale. " Under obligations ? "
"Oh, don't let's beat about the bush. Didn't he
tell you it was I who published Mrs. Aubyn's let-
ters ? Answer me that."
" No," she said ; and after a moment which seemed
given to the weighing of alternatives, she added:
" No one told me."
" You did n't know, then ? "
She seemed to speak with an effort. "Not until
not until "
" Till I gave you those papers to sort ? "
Her head sank.
" You understood then ? "
" Yes. 1 '
He looked at her immovable face. " Had you sus-
pected before ? "" was slowly wrung from him.
" At times yes ." Her voice dropped to a
" Why ? From anything that was said ?"
There was a shade of pity in her glance. " No one
said anything no one told me anything."" She
looked away from him. "It was your manner "
" My manner ? "
" Whenever the book was mentioned. Things you
said once or twice your irritation I can't ex-
Glennard, unconsciously, had moved nearer. He
breathed like a man who has been running. " You
knew, then, you knew " he stammered. The avowal
of her love for Flamel would have hurt him less,
would have rendered her less remote. " You knew
you knew " he repeated ; and suddenly his anguish
gathered voice. "My God!" he cried, "you sus-
pected it first, you say and then you knew it this
damnable, this accursed thing ; you knew it months
ago it's months since I put that paper in your
way and yet youVe done nothing, you've said
nothing, you've made no sign, you've lived along-
side of me as if it had made no difference no differ-
ence in either of our lives. What are you made of, I
wonder ? Don't you see the hideous ignominy of it ?
Don't you see how you've shared in my disgrace?
Or have n't you any sense of shame ? "
He preserved sufficient lucidity, as the words poured
from him, to see how fatally they invited her deri-
sion ; but something told him they had both passed
beyond the phase of obvious retaliations, and that if
any chord in her responded it would not be that of
He was right. She rose slowly and moved toward
"Haven't you had enough without that?*" she
said in a strange voice of pity.
He stared at her. "Enough?"
"Of misery. . ."
An iron band seemed loosened from his temples.
" You saw then . . ? " he whispered.
" Oh, God oh, God " she sobbed. She dropped
beside him and hid her anguish against his knees.
They clung thus in silence a long time, driven to-
gether down the same fierce blast of shame.
When at length she lifted her face he averted his.
Her scorn would have hurt him less than the tears
on his hands.
She spoke languidly, like a child emerging from a
passion of weeping. " It was for the money ? "
His lips shaped an assent.
" That was the inheritance that we married on ? "
She drew back and rose to her feet. He sat watch-
ing her as she wandered away from him.
" You hate me," broke from him.
She made no answer.
" Say you hate me ! " he persisted.
" That would have been so simple,'" she answered
with a strange smile. She dropped into a chair near
the writing-table and rested a bowed forehead on her
" Was it much ? " she began at length.
"Much ?" he returned vaguely.
" The money."
" The money ? " That part of it seemed to count so
little that for a moment he did not follow her thought.
" It must be paid back," she insisted. " Can you
" Oh, yes," he returned listlessly. " I can do it."
" I would make any sacrifice for that ! " she urged.
He nodded. " Of course." He sat staring at her in
dry-eyed self-contempt. "Do you count on its mak-
ing much difference ? "
" In the way I feel or you feel about me ? "
She shook her head.
" It 's the least part of it," he groaned.
" It 's the only part we can repair."
" Good heavens ! If there were any reparation "
He rose quickly and crossed the space that divided
them. " Why did you never speak ? "
" Have n't you answered that yourself ? "
" Just now when you told me you did it for me.""
She paused a moment and then went on with a
deepening note "I would have spoken if I could
have helped you."
" But you must have despised me."
" I Ve told you that would have been simpler."
"But how could you go on like this hating the
money ? "
"I knew you'd speak in time. I wanted you,
first, to hate it as I did."
He gazed at her with a kind of awe. "You're
wonderful," he murmured. " But you don't yet know
the depths I Ve reached."
She raised an entreating hand. " I don't want to ! "
" You 're afraid, then, that you '11 hate me ? "
"No but that you'll hate me. Let me under-
stand without your telling me."
"You can't. It's too base. I thought you didn't
care because you loved Flamel."
She blushed deeply. " Don't don't " she warned
" I have n't the right to, you mean ? "
" I mean that you '11 be sorry."
He stood imploringly before her. "I want to say
something worse something more oil' rageous. If
you don't understand this you'll be perfectly justp
fied in ordering me out of the house."
She answered him with a glance of divination. " I
shall understand but you '11 be sorry."
" I must take my chance of that." He moved away
and tossed the books about the table. Then he swung
round and faced her. "Does Flamel care for you?"
Her flush deepened, but she still looked at him
without anger. " What would be the use ? " she said
with a note of sadness.
" Ah, I did n't ask that? he penitently murmured.
" Well, then "
To this adjuration he made no response beyond
that of gazing at her with an eye which seemed now
to view her as a mere factor in an immense redistri-
bution of meanings.
"I insulted Flamel to-day. I let him see that I
suspected him of having told you. I hated him be-
cause he knew about the letters."
He caught the spreading horror of her eyes, and
for an insta: t he had to grapple with the new temp-
tation they lit up. Then he said with an effort
"Don't blame him he's impeccable. He helped me
to get them published; but I lied to him too; I
pretended they were written to another man . . .
a man who was dead. . ."
She raised her arms in a gesture that seemed to
ward off his blows.
" You do despise me ! " he insisted.
"Ah, that poor woman that poor woman " he
heard her murmur.
" I spare no one, you see ! " he triumphed over
her. She kept her face hidden.
" You do hate me, you do despise me ! " he
" Be silent ! " she commanded him ; but he seemed
no longer conscious of any check on his gathering
"He cared for you he cared for you," he re-
peated, "and he never told you of the letters "
She sprang to her feet. "How can you?" she
flamed. "How dare you? That I"
Glennard was ashy pale. " It 's a weapon . . . like
another. . ."
" A scoundrel's ! "
He smiled wretchedly. "I should have used it in
" Stephen ! Stephen ! " she cried, as though to
drown the blasphemy on his lips. She swept to him
with a rescuing gesture. "Don't say such things. I
forbid you ! It degrades us both."
He put her back with trembling hands. " Nothing
that I say of myself can degrade you. We 're on dif-
" I 'm on yours, wherever it is ! "
He lifted his head and their gaze flowed together.
THE great renewals take effect as impercepti-
bly as the first workings of spring. Glennard,
though he felt himself brought nearer to his wife,
was still, as it were, hardly within speaking distance.
He was but laboriously acquiring the rudiments of
a new language; and he had to grope for her
through the dense fog of his humiliation, the dis-
torting vapor against which his personality loomed
grotesque and mean.
Only the fact that we are unaware how well our
nearest know us enables us to live with them. Love
is the most impregnable refuge of self-esteem, and
we hate the eye that reaches to our nakedness. If
Glennard did not hate his wife it was slowly, suffer-
ingly, that there was born in him that profounder
passion which made his earlier feeling seem a mere
commotion of the blood. He was like a child coming
back to the sense of an enveloping presence: her
nearness was a breast on which he leaned.
They did not, at first, talk much together, and
each beat a devious track about the outskirts of the
subject that lay between them like a haunted wood.
But every word, every action, seemed to glance at
it, to draw toward it, as though a fount of healing
sprang in its poisoned shade. If only they might cut
a way through the thicket to that restoring spring !
Glennard, watching his wife with the intentness
of a wanderer to whom no natural sign is negligeable,
saw that she had taken temporary refuge in the pur-
pose of renouncing the money. If both, theoretically,
owned the inefficacy of such amends, the woman's
instinctive subjectiveness made her find relief in this
crude form of penance. Glennard saw that she meant
to live as frugally as possible till what she deemed
their debt was discharged ; and he prayed she might
not discover how far-reaching, in its merely material
sense, was the obligation she thus hoped to acquit.
Her mind was fixed on the sum originally paid for
the letters, and this he knew he could lay aside in
a year or two. He was touched, meanwhile, by the
spirit that made her discard the petty luxuries which
she regarded as the sign of their bondage. Their
shared renunciations drew her nearer to him, helped,
in their evidence of her helplessness, to restore the
full protecting stature of his love. And still they did
It was several weeks later that, one afternoon by
the drawing-room fire, she handed him a letter that
she had been reading when he entered.
" I Ve heard from Mr. Flamel," she said.
It was as though a latent presence had become
visible to both. Glennard took the letter mechanically.
" It's from Smyrna, 1 ' she said. "Won't you read it ?"
He handed it back. " You can tell me about it his
hand's so illegible." He wandered to the other end
of the room and then turned and stood before her.
" I Ve been thinking of writing to Flamel," he said.
She looked up.
"There's one point," he continued slowly, "that
I ought to clear up. I told him you 'd known about
the letters all along ; for a long time, at least ; and I
saw how it hurt him. It was just what I meant to
do, of course ; but I can't leave him to that false
impression ; I must write him."
She received this without outward movement, but
he saw that the depths were stirred. At length she
returned in a hesitating tone, " Why do you call it
a false impression ? I did know."
" Yes, but I implied you did n't care."
He still stood looking down on her. "Don't you
want me to set that right ? " he pursued.
She lifted her head and fixed him bravely. "It
is n't necessary," she said.
Glennard flushed with the shock of the retort;
then, with a gesture of comprehension, "No," he
said, " with you it could n't be ; but I might still set
She looked at him gently. "Don't I," she mur-
mured, " do that ?"
" In being yourself merely ? Alas, the rehabilita-
tion's too complete ! You make me seem to myself
even what I'm not; what I can never be. I can't,
at times, defend myself from the delusion ; but I can
at least enlighten others."
The flood was loosened, and kneeling by her he
caught her hands. "Don't you see that it's become
an obsession with me? That if I could strip myself
down to the last lie only there 'd always be another
one left under it ! and do penance naked in the
market-place, I should at least have the relief of
easing one anguish by another? Don't you see that
the worst of my torture is the impossibility of such
amends ? "
Her hands lay in his without returning pressure.
" Ah, poor woman, poor woman," he heard her sigh.
" Don't pity her, pity me ! What have I done to
her or to you, after all ? You 're both inaccessible !
It was myself I sold."
He took an abrupt turn away from her; then
halted before her again. "How much longer," he
burst out, " do you suppose you can stand it ?
You 've been magnificent, you 've been inspired, but
what 's the use ? You can't wipe out the ignominy of
it. It 's miserable for you and it does Tier no good ! "
She lifted a vivid face. "That's the thought I
can't bear ! " she cried.
"That it does her no good all you're feeling,
all you're suffering. Can it be that it makes no dif-
ference ? "
He avoided her challenging glance. " What 's done
is done," he muttered.
"Is it ever, quite, I wonder?" she mused. He
made no answer and they lapsed into one of the
pauses that are a subterranean channel of communi-
It was she who, after a while, began to speak, with
a new suffusing diffidence that made him turn a
roused eye on her.
" Don't they say," she asked, feeling her way as in
a kind of tender apprehensiveness, "that the early
Christians, instead of pulling down the heathen tem-
ples the temples of the unclean gods purified
them by turning them to their own uses ? I Ve al-
ways thought one might do that with one's actions
the actions one loathes but can't undo. One can
make, I mean, a wrong the door to other wrongs or
an impassable wall against them. . ." Her voice
wavered on the word. "We can't always tear down
the temples we 've built to the unclean gods, but we
can put good spirits in the house of evil the spirits
of mercy and shame and understanding, that might
never have come to us if we hadn't been in such
great need. . ."
She moved over to him and laid a hand on his.
His head was bent and he did not change his atti-
tude. She sat down beside him without speaking;
but their silences now were fertile as rain-clouds
they quickened the seeds of understanding.
At length he looked up. " I don't know," he said,
" what spirits have come to live in the house of evil
that I built but you're there and that's enough.
It 's strange," he went on after another pause, " she
wished the best for me so often, and now, at last,
it's through her that it's come to me. But for her
I shouldn't have known you it's through her that
I've found you. Sometimes do you know? that
makes it hardest makes me most intolerable to
myself. Can't you see that it's the worst thing I've
got to face ? I sometimes think I could have borne
it better if you had n't understood ! I took every-
thing from her everything even to the poor
shelter of loyalty she'd trusted in the only thing
I could have left her! I took everything from
her, I deceived her, I despoiled her, I destroyed
her and she 's given me you in return ! "
His wife's cry caught him up. " It is n't that she 's
given me to you it is that she 's given you to your-
self." She leaned to him as though swept forward on
a wave of pity. " Don't you see," she went on, as his
eyes hung on her, "that that's the gift you can't
escape from, the debt you're pledged to acquit?
Don't you see that you've never before been what
she thought you, and that now, so wonderfully, she 's
made you into the man she loved ? That V worth suf-
fering for, worth dying for, to a woman that's the
gift she would have wished to give ! "
"Ah," he cried, "but woe to him by whom it
cometh. What did I ever give her?"
"The happiness of giving," she said.
BY EDITH WHARTON
THE GREATER INCLINATION
The Muses Tragedy A Journey
The Pelican Souls Belated
A Coward The Twilight of the God
A Cup of Cold Water The Portrait
OPINIONS OF THE PRESS
Eight pieces of delicate texture and artistic conception. Every
one of them has the external shape and coloring of the world in
which we mingle day by day, and every one of them is at heart
a poignant spiritual tragedy. This may sound like extravagant
praise, but no conventional commendation would be adequate
for such a book. Between these stories and those of the ordi-
nary entertaining sort there is a great gulf fixed. The Dial.
Marked by great technical skill, by keen humor, and by a style
which is individual and striking. There is a quality of distinction
about her work not merely of style but of character. The New
This book of short stories comes out of America, and it is good.
It is very good. Mrs. Wharton is one of the few to grasp that ob-
vious but much neglected fact that the first business of a writer
is to be able to write. "The Greater Inclination " is distinguished
and delightful. The Academy.
If we were to single out one book from those that have been
published this season as exhibiting in the highest degree that
rare creative power called literary genius, we should name "The
Greater Inclination," by Mrs. Edith Wharton. The Bookman.
Her style is as finished as a cameo, and there is nowhere an
indication of haste or crudity or the least inattention to detail.
Only a woman to the manner born in society, a woman, too,
whose literary favorites or her literary masters may have been
Thackeray or James, since she partakes of the spirit of the one,
and has followed the exquisite workmanship of the other, could
have written "The Pelican" or "Souls Belated." Literature.
Mrs. Wharton has not only observed people carefully, but has
really perceived the subtle significance of their ordinary as-
pects, so that her figures are not only individuals but types.
This sympathetic and suggestive portrayal and the generally
optimistic and moral tone make "The Greater Inclination" a
book of really great value. Boston Transcript.
Mrs. Wharton shows us so much delicacy of touch, so much
clarity and neatness of style, and at times so much profundity
of comprehension as to make her volume quite unique among
the books that have been sent to us this year. . . . We could
go on quoting indefinitely, so full is Mrs. Wharton's book of
thoughts that are startlingly original in substance and given
with a most vivid sense of form ; but we prefer to commend the
volume most unreservedly to every reader, since nothing that
we have seen this year in fiction-writing has seemed to us so
memorable, both in its choice of subjects, its mastery of style,
and its piquant art that makes one think and wonder. N. Y.
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, PUBLISHERS
153-157 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
D. B. Updike
The Merrymount Press
Wharton, Edith Newbold (Jones)
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